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Kashmir violence: Rajnath Singh’s statement suggests Centre could be biting the bullet on pellet guns

Once fired, these lead loaded shots hit the soft parts of the body and eye being the delicate organ having soft tissues becomes the prime target.

Written by Wali Ahmad |
Updated: August 25, 2016 8:53:16 pm
kashmir violence, kashmir protest, kashmir unrest, kashmir, pellet gun, pellet guns kashmir, kashmir government, india news Kashmir violence: Victims with pellet injuries in their eyes in Srinagar. (Photo: Shuaib Masoodi)

Home Minister Rajnath Singh met leaders from across the political spectrum on Thursday in Srinagar in a bid to bring peace in the Valley, which has seen widespread protests by civilians and clashes with security forces leading to the death of 68 people.

Thousands of civilians, including children, have been injured since the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani and the protests that followed. Most of these injures have been reported because of pellet guns. The use of pellet guns has come under sharp criticism both from within the Valley and civil society members outside the state. Hundreds of people are being treated after getting shot by these lethal pellet guns which, in some cases, blind the victims.

READ | Don’t play with Kashmir’s future, stone pelting is no solution: 10 highlights from Rajnath, Mehbooba press conference

In a significant development, however, Rajnath Singh said in a joint press conference with Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti that the government will propose an alternative to the pellet guns within three or four days.

pellet gun victim, kashmir violence, kashmir protest, kashmir unrest, kashmir, pellet gun, pellet guns kashmir, kashmir government, india news Kashmir violence: A pellet gun vuctim at a hospital in Srinagar. (Source: Reuters)

He said that an expert committee was set up and mandated to look for an alternative to pellet guns and its report will be announced very soon.

READ | Will appoint nodal officer to help Kashmiri youth across the country: Rajnath Singh in Srinagar

“It is just one month and report of that committee will come within two-three days. Within few days, we will give an alternative to pellet guns. In 2010, it was said the pellet gun is a non lethal weapon which can cause least damage but now we feel that there should be some alternate to this,” he said.

READ | How Mehbooba Mufti distinguished the street protests of 2010 from the violence in 2016

The use of pellet guns as a method of crowd control in the Valley is very common. During the 2010 violence, hundreds of people were injured by these pellets. Once fired, these lead loaded shots hit the soft parts of the body and eye being the delicate organ having soft tissues becomes the prime target. During the ongoing violence in Kashmir, security forces used pellets to control protesters. Rajnath Singh’s promise of an alternative to pellet guns seems like a first move to calm the tempers in the Valley.

READ | Alternatives to pellet guns in few days: Rajnath Singh

With no visible sign of any breakthrough in efforts to bring normalcy in the Valley, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had earlier called for a peaceful solution to the Kashmir issue. He invoked former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s slogan of Kashmiryat and insaniyat to drive home to point that the Central government was sincere in dealing with the issue. On the ground, however, the situation remained fluid. Only yesterday, one youth was killed in clashes with security forces in south Kashmir.

READ | India’s future cannot exist without the future of Kashmir: Rajnath Singh in Srinagar

During the Monsoon Session of Parliament, the Opposition had demanded that an all-party delegation be sent to Kashmir to speak to the stakeholders. Today, Rajnath Singh said that the government was willing to bring an all-party delegation to Kashmir.

READ | Ban pellet guns, probe deaths, J&K Opposition tells Rajnath Singh

Making a plea for restoring peace, Rajnath said “Kashmir’s future is linked to the future of India”. Words that are soothing in these troubled times in the Valley, but we need to wait to see if these can be translated on the ground. The Central government will have to walk that extra mile to lay the ground for at least the talks to begin. His promise of an alternative to pellet guns can be seen as a beginning of the quest, in the present context, for bringing peace in Kashmir.

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