The Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Wednesday rejected a ban on pump action guns, or pellet guns, used by security agencies for crowd control in the state. A division bench of Chief Justice N Paul Vasanthakumar and Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey heard a plea filed by the state’s Bar Association, and also refused to direct the state to prosecute officers who use the guns.
The bench said, “It is manifest that so long as there is violence by unruly mobs, use of force is inevitable... What kind of force has to be used at the relevant point of time, or in a given situation/place, has to be decided by persons in charge of the place [of attack]”.
The court added that it could not prohibit the guns without any information from a competent authority or forum, Hindustan Times reported, adding that the Centre had constituted a panel to find alternatives to pump action guns. The Centre has been criticised heavily for deaths and injuries caused by pellets from the guns during the ongoing crisis in Kashmir. The bench, however, did direct the state government to ensure medical treatment to those injured by such weapons.
In August, a panel set up by the Home Ministry to find alternatives to the guns suggested they be replaced with chilli-based PAVA shells that are believed to be a “less lethal” ammunition.
The region has witnessed protests and unrest since security forces killed Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani on July 8. As many as 81 people have died because of the situation in the state, with thousands more being injured. The crisis has also been a reason for deteriorating bilateral ties with Pakistan, as Pakistan leaders have repeatedly alleged that there are human rights violations in the state, and called for plebiscites in the region.