The controversy over whether police should use rubber or plastic bullets to disperse agitators, instead of using water cannons, has taken a fresh turn with two recent deaths in Kashmir and Haryana.
After the death of Raj Rani, a female teacher from Jind in Rohtak two days ago, the Haryana police have decided to stop using rubber bullets until it is proved beyond doubt that they are not lethal.
In Srinagar, after facing severe criticism for opening direct fire on protestors, killing 40 persons in the past two months, police and the CRPF started using rubber bullets. But a 20-yeal-old youth, Javaid Iqbal, fell to a rubber bullet on Saturday. He came into the firing range when the police were having a pitched battle with a mob.
Director General of Haryana Police R.S. Dalal said, “We are writing to the Home Ministry and the Bureau of Police Research and Development to examine how lethal the rubber ammunition is.”
Dalal said the policemen used such ammunition with the impression that they are only meant to immobilise the protestors. But policemen do not seem to have much idea that rubber bullets can prove lethal if fired from a distance of less than 100 metres.
Doctors at Srinagar’s Sri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) Hospital say major wounds alone do not cause deaths.
“A victim does not know what is being fired upon him. He can die of shock and cardiac arrest even when hit by a rubber bullet,” says Dr Nazir Mushtaq of SMHS.