Expressing sadness over the statement of CRPF chief that the force has no option but to use pellet guns in Kashmir, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad on Tuesday said it will further alienate the people of the state, especially youth.
Azad also said the DG, CRPF’s statement, coming immediately after the return of Home Minister Rajnath Singh from Kashmir, indicated it had the consent of the government.
“I am very sad and I was very disturbed after reading the statement of CRPF, DG…That is something unacceptable. I am sorry that the type of decision the Government of India has taken, this will further alienate the people of Jammu and Kashmir and particularly the youth because mostly the youth have been subjected to this kind of treatment as they have been on the forefront (of protests),” he said.
K Durga Prasad, Director General of CRPF, which has been accused of disproportionate use of force in Jammu and Kashmir, had yesterday expressed regret for injuries caused to youths due to firing of pellet guns in the Valley but said it would continue to use this “least-lethal” weapon but only in “extreme” situations.
“That means that the direction from the Central government was clear, otherwise he could have not given the statement. That means he has sought the permission of the Home Ministry for use of pellet guns,” Azad, leader of opposition in the Rajya Sabha, alleged.
Maintaining that no civilized country uses pellet guns, Azad said the first thing that Home Minister Singh should have done was to tell the state government and the security forces not to use it in future.
He said pellet guns were a “very lethal” weapon and hundreds of men have been blinded as security forces targeted the protesters’ head and not the legs.
“How can you blind your own people, especially the youth. Are you going to get the confidence of people or you are going to make them permanent enemies. The first thing the Home Minister should have done, he should have tried to win the hearts of the people. He should have made sure that confidence building measures are taken.
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“But instead of taking confidence building measures, the Director General of CRPF says he will still go ahead with the use of pellet guns so that some more people will be blinded,” he said.
The Congress leader, a former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, said he had requested the Home Minister that since he is meeting the senior officers of the state he should make sure that use of pellet guns is totally banned.
Describing the situation in Kashmir as “very serious”, he said, “Never before in the history of independent India more than 5,500 people have been injured (in one spell of protests), you can imagine the magnitude of the problem. It is a huge number for a state like Jammu and Kashmir.”