Kashmir Unrest: Modi Govt may announce ban on use of pellet guns

NEW DELHI: Desperate to arrest deteriorating situation in Kashmir and find a window for political outreach, the Centre may soon announce a complete ban on the use of pellet guns.

According to highly placed sources, three alternatives of pellet guns are in the advance stage of trials and have emerged successful so far. Union home minister Rajnath Singh, who is taking keen interest in it, discussed the development in detail with national security advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval and IB chief Dineshwar Sharma on Thursday.

“The final trial to see the effect of these alternatives is being done through simulation and a less lethal alternative will be made available in a day to two,” said sources not willing to spell out the alternatives.

Eager to find a toehold for political outreach and strike a cord with Kashmiris to counter Pakistan’s effort to internationalise Kashmir issue, Rajnath Singh may make the announcement, pending the report of an expert committee, within a couple of days, said sources.

The Centre is also looking at sensitising television channels to control their hawkish approach against agitating Kashmiris that is proving counter productive.

“The government is expected to bring mainstream channels on board on this issue and may call a meeting of their editors soon,” said sources.

The visit of the first civil society delegation to Kashmir – comprising Mani Shankar Aiyar, air marshal Kapil Kak, Saeeda Hameed, Aruna Roy and Prem Shankar Jha – has also given some heart to the government.

These steps may finally give the government a talking point and an opportunity to at least be heard in Kashmir, believe people in the loop of the developments.

Widespread use of pellet guns, considered less lethal, to deal with agitating crowds by the security forces in Kashmir that have left hundreds injured and blinded scores of people, including small children, has been deplored both nationally and internationally.

Facing criticism, the government had constituted an expert committee under joint secretary of union home ministry, TVSN Prasad on July 26 and given it two months to submit its report on alternatives to the pellet guns that have left hundreds of people injured in Kashmir. But the continuing turbulence in the Valley and complete shutdown compelled the security establishment to expedite the process.