The Supreme Court on Monday gave the Centre two weeks’ time to present alternatives to the use of pump action guns, popularly called pellet guns, on agitating mobs in Jammu and Kashmir. The apex court also expressed concern over the injuries suffered by hundreds, several of them minors, during the protests in Kashmir last year following the encounter that killed Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani.
The court was hearing a plea filed by the Kashmir High Court Bar Association that alleged the misuse of pump action guns in Kashmir. “We are of the impression that there are other methods that can be adopted,” the bench headed by Chief Justice JS Khehar told the Centre, according to Greater Kashmir. The Supreme Court also asked Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi to file a detailed reply on the action that has been taken by the government to help the minors who were injured by the pellets.
Rohatgi, however, said the decision on whether to use them or avoid them was not for the court to make. “We are not denying that excessive force might have been used in certain cases, but the issue not judicially manageable,” Rohatgi said according to Mint. The case will be heard next on April 10.
The Indian Army had faced severe criticism for injuring hundreds of people with the “non-lethal” weapon during the protests in July last year. The Home Ministry had set up a panel in August, 2016, which had suggested pump action guns be replaced with shells containing Pelargonic Acid Vanillyl Amide. Recently, it was reported that the new version of pump action guns will have deflectors on the muzzle end so that the shrapnel in the pellets does not hit anyone above the abdomen region.
In September last year, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court had rejected the ban on pump action guns for crowd control in the state. “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 high court had said.