Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Monday rapped the Centre on the use of pellet guns by paramilitary forces and asked it to explain why the injuries suffered by people are above the knees -- mostly in eyes -- despite claims of having trained law-enforcing agencies.
"You are discharging the duty of controlling a mob, the crowd, but in a civilised society how you control a mob because they are your own people, they are not aliens, they have not descended from outer space with their own pellets throwing on you. Treat them as your own people.
"You are not treating them as your own people," a division bench of the court observed here while hearing a PIL.
The bench, comprising Chief Justice N Paul Vasanthakumar and Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar, said the government claims CRPF personnel were trained to handle the pellet guns but it did not explain how the people were suffering injuries above their knees and mostly in their eyes then.
"You are not explaining how the injuries are suffered above the knee, mostly the eyes are damaged. You are not explaining that."
"If you are trained, you are saying many things about their training, but you are not saying why the people are suffering injuries above knees and then their eyes are mostly damaged. You are not saying that," the court told Assistant Solicitor General of India.
The Centre in its response before the court said that CRPF personnel deployed in Jammu and Kashmir for maintaining law- and-order duties are experienced and fully trained to use the anti-riot equipment.
Each functional battalion of CRPF has seven companies, out of which one company is always put under training on a rotation basis to refresh their operational skills and acquaint themselves with the latest technology.
They are not companies formed by collecting trainees/ recruits from the training centre, the Centre said.
It also said in pursuance of the Ministry of Home Affairs order dated May 26, 60 companies of CRPF (including two Mahila companies) are currently deployed in Jammu and Kashmir for security arrangements during Amarnath Yatra with effect from June 18 till completion of the Yatra.
Fifty-four training/reserve companies were also deployed additionally in the Kashmir Valley for maintaining law-and-order situation.
These companies are fully trained to use anti-riot equipment etc in law-and-order duties, the Centre said. However, the bench said while the government asserts that CRPF is trained to deal with pellet guns, the situation on the ground is different.
"It was in this context that it was said that you give this information to the court. The reason was this because the people have suffered injuries above the knee and mostly in their eyes. See, if you are controlling a crowd, you have to follow your own standard operating procedure also in doing that."
"It is all on paper that you are trained, that you are fit to deal with this gun, but on the ground, the situation is different because reports have been submitted by the state government regarding injuries to the people because of the use of the pellet guns," the court observed.
The court said the state was creating problems for itself by using pellet guns and asked it to take a conscious decision on their use.
"It is the problem for the state. They use pellet guns, their own people suffer and they have to get doctors from outside. This is the problem created by the state for itself. They have to take a conscious decision about it," it said.
The bench asked the government to think about the use of pellet guns in the light of the statement of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in Parliament and also asked it to find an alternative method of crowd control.
"Why don't you think about it (use of pellet guns)? Your own Home Minister said avoid its use. It is the Home Minister of the country saying avoid its use. Why don't you find alternative methods?" it asked.
The court listed the case for next hearing on August 9.