The Jammu and Kashmir High Court Saturday said Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s statement in Lok Sabha on the Kashmir situation has made it clear that pellet guns are not non-lethal weapons, and that should be sufficient grounds for the government to discontinue their use in the Valley.
Singh had Thursday announced that the government would form an expert panel to look at other non-lethal alternatives as crowd-control measures.
A division bench of Chief Justice N Paul Vasanthakumar and Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar, referring to the loss of eyesight among people hit by pellets, said when a person loses his vision, he loses his universe.
“The Home Minister’s statement meant that in Kashmir, it (pellet gun) is not a non-lethal weapon,” the court said while hearing a PIL.
Referring to injuries sustained by five-year-old Nasir Ahmad Khan in the protests, the court said that no sensitive person can stand to look at pictures of victims appearing in newspapers. “Such incidents shall have to be taken note of by the State for not only giving appropriate treatment but also to give compensation to the affected persons/families,” the court ordered.
The court directed authorities to take immediate steps to treat patients, including those who require eye surgeries. “Want of space or operation table or surgical items or surgeons cannot be an answer to deny timely treatment to patients,” the bench said. It directed medical authorities to shift patients to other hospitals if all of them cannot be treated at SMHS Hospital.
Asking the police to provide protection to medical shops, the court said the State cannot allow people to suffer for want of medicines. “It is also brought to the notice of this court that law enforcing agencies are not allowing medical shops to open and sell medicines. The law enforcing agencies are directed not to force closure of any medical shop,” the bench ordered.
The court asked the government not to stop volunteers from helping the injured in hospitals. “These are highly abnormal times for the people of the state. You should not stop voluntary organisations,” the court said.
It also asked the state government to relax curfew, at least in peaceful areas.