Srinagar: The Union Home Ministry's decision to authorise Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) to procure additional 5000 pellet guns with whooping six lakh cartridges to be used on Kashmiri protesters would only "aggravate the situation" in Valley, noted human rights activists and academicians said.
"I don't think the weaponisation can control the situation in Kashmir, it will only aggravate it," human rights defender and coordinator of Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, Khurram Parvez, told Firstpost.
He said that the central and state governments want to control dissent through violence.
"This shows that the government of India has not come out of the idea of controlling dissent through force and engage in a meaningful dialogue," Parvez said.
According to a report, after the Home Ministry's authorisation for 4,949 pellet guns for CRPF, their total number will rise to 5,589 which will be powered by 6 lakh cartridges. Every CRPF company will be equipped with nine pellet guns.
Hundreds of protesters were blinded partially or completely during last year's turmoil due to the indiscriminate use of pellets by forces. The people hit by pellets in their eyes have to undergo multiple surgeries to correct their vision. Over the years, at least six people have lost their lives by pellet guns.
"I don't understand the logic behind the idea of increasing the number of pellet guns in Kashmir when the use of this so-called non-lethal weapon has already backfired. Is India preparing to blind another generation of Kashmiris?" a political science professor at Kashmir University, who wished not to be named, told Firstpost over phone.
"The Government of India should shun the policy of meeting Kashmiri protestors with weapons. It is a failed policy. It seems that the policy corridors in Delhi are facing intellectual bankruptcy when it comes to think about Kashmir," the professor said.
The High Court of Jammu and Kashmir has banned the use of pellet guns in Valley last year. But both the Union and State Government dishonored the Court decision and went ahead with the use of pellets on protesters during the 2016 anti-India protests in Valley.
"We are yet to hear that the government wants to engage in a dialogue to resolve the dispute of Kashmir. They are worried about the upcoming summer but if they would engage Kashmiri leadership (Hurriyat) in a political dialogue why would people come out on roads?," Khurram said.
He said that the decision to increase the number of pellet guns in Kashmir was a clear policy of militarisation, weaponisation and not politics of resolution.
The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) has also announced the use of modified or 'tweaked' pellet guns to minimise the impact of aluminum pellets on people. However, the people said the "modified" guns won't make any difference.
According to the protocol, the pellet guns or any other crowd control weapons should be aimed at the legs of the protesters to make them less lethal. However, the number of injuries caused by pellets last year in Kashmir only suggest that they were aimed above the waist height, to damage vital parts of the body including head.
"We should not be surprised if many more youth will be blinded by forces this year," a Kashmiri researcher based in New Delhi said.
The modified guns, according to CRPF, would have a 'deflector' fixed to the muzzle so that the shot does not go up the waist height of a protester.
"The pellet guns are one of the many options that we will use when we operate to control protesters in the coming days. PAVA (packed with chilli) shells have a long shelf life and they are good in certain situations. But we have made it clear that the CRPF man on ground will use whatever the situation demands," outgoing CRPF Director General, K Durga Prasad, told PTI.
Updated Date: Mar 03, 2017 08:03 AM