Congress flays govt decision to not fully ban pellet guns

Congress-Ghulam-Nabi-Azad-n-KhargeHaving already stated its firm stand against the use of pellet guns by security forces in the Kashmir valley to quell protest, the Congress party has strongly opposed government’s decision to continue the use of pellet guns. The government had on Monday said that pellet guns will not be completely banned but will be fired in “rarest of rare cases”.

Reiterating its stand, the principal opposition party termed the development as very upsetting and something that amounted to “betrayal” with the Opposition which was given to understand that these would be stopped.

“Well, this has made us very upset. At the national level, we were all one when we raised our voice against the use of pellet guns and we were told on the floor of the House that a committee has been constituted and whatever recommendations will come we will implement and we were privately given to understand that the use of pellet guns will not be there,” Congress general secretary and leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said in Srinagar.

He added that a delegation led by former chief minister Omar Abdullah, which had met President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi, and the all-party delegation led by him had expressed hat there should not be use of any pellet guns.

Srinagar: Protesters throwing stones on a police vehicle during a clash in Srinagar, August 30, 2016. Photo - PTI

Srinagar: Protesters throwing stones on a police vehicle during a clash in Srinagar, August 30, 2016.
Photo – PTI

“But, it is very sad that the demand made by all party leaders in both houses of Parliament and the demand made by the all party leaders from J-K has been totally neglected. We are totally upset with this decision of the government. It amounts to a betrayal of sorts,” the senior Congress leader said.

Azad along with several other senior opposition leaders had raised the issue of the use of pellet guns during the debate in Rajya Sabha in the last session.

Discussing the fragile situation in the valley, several opposition leaders were critical of the use of pellet guns, which had left several protesters suffering irreversible eye injuries. CPI (M) leader Sitaram Yechury had even cited an official report stating more than 100 persons have been blinded by the pellets.

Facing criticism over the use of pellet guns by the security forces, the Centre had assured of an alternative.

During his two-day visit to Kashmir on August 24-25, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had said an alternative to pellet guns will be given to security forces in the coming days.

But on Monday, the senior government functionaries arrived at the conclusion that pellet guns will be continued to be use after extensive consultations with security forces and examining the ground realities in Kashmir Valley.

The option of firing pellet guns will remain but it will be used only in rarest of rare cases, the official said.

Speaking on the all-party delegation, due to visit valley on September 4, Azad said sending an all-party delegation to Kashmir was not an initiative of the government but it was a demand made by the Opposition parties.

“No, I don’t think this was their initiative… We had to fight it, we had to fight for this all party delegation again and again inside the Parliament and outside the Parliament,” he said.

(With inputs from the PTI)