Jammu and Kashmir’s Deputy Chief Minister Dr Nirmal Singh Friday ruled out a blanket ban on pellet guns, saying they were used “only when situations reach an extreme”.
“While no state would like to have civilian killings, but what is the alternative to prevent anarchy-like situations? We are not using pellet guns as a routine, but only when situations reach an extreme,” Singh said.
He said most deaths and injuries among youths occurred due to firing of pellets from close range during the first two days of violence following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani. “Most of the things (killings and injuries) took place due to closeness between unruly protesters and security forces and police personnel,” he told The Indian Express, adding that the death toll rose when some of the injured succumbed in hospitals.
Pointing out that pellet guns were introduced as a “non-lethal” weapon and an alternative to bullets after the 2010 unrest, Singh said “these are not lethal when fired from a distance. But what can you do when someone comes close despite warnings and pounces on you?”
He, however, added: “It (use of pellet guns) has become a subject matter of public discussion, so we would certainly like to see some alternatives. This is all part of reforms.”
About initiating dialogue with all stakeholders in the Valley, he said everything has already been mentioned in the Agenda of Alliance finalised with PDP. However, for any meaningful dialogue, there has to be peace, he said.
Quoting reports in the local media, Singh said aggressiveness among youths had increased. “We do not know how much influence separatists have on them, except that they too are inciting them,” he said. The government, however, is planning to engage youths by creating avenues of employment and channelising their energy through skill development and sports, he said.