The Supreme Court on April 10 heard a crucial petition calling for a ban on pellet guns in Jammu & Kashmir.
In front of the bench of Chief Justice JS Khehar and Justices DY Chandrachud and Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi submitted that the government is looking into alternatives, but each procedure has its own drawbacks.
He detailed that there is “something called Pawa shelling, which has the effect of spraying chilli powder. But if people wear a wet kerchief covering the nose and mouth and cover the eyes with goggles then it will have no effect. Smoke grenade is another option.”
He also pointed out the guidelines to use pellet guns (for security reasons, most of it is not read out).
He said: “Our idea is not to kill someone. But if they are upon us we are helpless. We have had attacks from the crowd with grenades.” He also said that minor deterrents, therefore, will have little effect. “Foul smelling liquids will have very less effect,” he added.
He pointed out the pictures from the riot incidents, with muffled faces and Pakistani flags etc. and with policemen lying on the ground.
The AG clarified that these protests in the valley are “not usual protests in the form of dharna or march, but violent street protests. He also submitted the affidavit by BSF which clearly states that the BSF doesn’t use pellet guns. He then submitted that even the expert committee report which mentions how many CRPF and army personnel were injured during the protests in the aftermath of the death of Burhan Wani. Also, as per the experts, this is the least lethal way of handling the situation on the ground.
He further submitted that the protests were so violent that petrol bombs were used, as well as cocktail bombs and stones, etc. Nine instances of grenade attacks have also been noted.
He said 252 attacks have taken place on CRPF camps in a period of just 33 days.
He said these protests have caused extensive damage to life and property in the state. He stated specific instances of violence arising out of these protests.
When the Chief Justice asked the counsel for the petitioner whether he needs time to ponder over his submissions as he is neither representing the Army nor the protesters and his position is very unique being a representative of the state bar association, the counsel said that he is arguing for a large number of people who are being violated and the bar association wants to bring to light some facts which are outside the system.
To this the CJI said that he cannot look into what lies outside the system. He also warned the counsel that he shall not take sides because he is in the unique situation and is stuck in the middle.
Another counsel for the petitioner showed news reports taking note of the fact that more than 65 people have completely lost their eyesight and hundreds have died. Also, eight people have been killed on April 9 itself. He then submits that there is not a war going on between people and the govt and if such a situation persists then there will be nobody left in the Valley.
The counsel then asked for two weeks to file detailed reports regarding the deaths caused by the pellet guns.
The Court granted two weeks to submit the affidavit along with supporting materials. Matter listed for April 28.
—By India Legal Bureau