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Who Uses Pellet Guns In Jammu And Kashmir? The Answer Isn’t As Simple As You Think

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Who uses pellet guns in Jammu and Kashmir?

What The Media Says About Who Uses Pellet Guns

Various terms are used by the news sites related to who uses pellet guns in Jammu and Kashmir. Consider these examples:

The Hindu (21 July 2016)

The article, “What are pellet guns and why are they lethal?” says that “they (pellet guns) are used by Jammu & Kashmir Police and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). They were first introduced in August 2010. The CRPF has 600 such guns.” The article has no mention of the Indian army being supplied with pellet guns or using them.

The Indian Express (22 July 2016)

“It was introduced by the state police in 2010.” The article does not specifically mention the army or the CRPF.

DAWN (28 September 2016)

“In the first 32 days of the conflict only, the Indian army had used 1.3 million pellets”. BUT, the word “used” has a link in the article which redirects to an article from The Hindu titled “1.3 million pellets used in 32 days, CRPF tells HC,” which has no mention of the army or the state (Jammu and Kashmir) police and only mentions the CRPF.

So these examples were from 2016. Let’s see some from this year:

  • TIME (6 September 2018): A recent TIME magazine online news article says that pellet guns are supplied to the “regional police and the army”. The article goes on to use the term “security forces” in following sentences such as, “security forces responded with pellet guns.” Currently, if you type “Kashmir pellet guns” into Google search results, this is the first article that is shown. The blurb reads, “India’s army injured thousands with pellet guns.”
Note how the blurb for the article says “India’s army injured thousands with pellet guns.” Screen grab taken on 23 December 2018.
  • BBC (28 November 2018): BBC mainly uses the words “security forces” in most of their articles when referring to usage of pellet guns. In a recent article BBC writes, “Indian security forces have stepped up their use of pellet guns.” They add, “Pellet guns…were first used by the police as a non-lethal weapon to quell protests in Indian-administered Kashmir in 2010.”

So, considering these examples, can you definitely say who uses pellet guns? Considering The Hindu article, we can say the CRPF and the Jammu and Kashmir police use pellet guns. But other than the TIME article which says the pellet guns have been supplied to the army, none of the articles directly say that the Indian army uses pellet guns.

What Do Human Rights Groups Say?

Amnesty International India launched a campaign in January 2018 to ban pellet guns. The campaign was addressed to Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, and not the central government. Amnesty explains the reason for this in one of their articles, writing that the state government is the relevant authority, adding that nowhere else in India are these weapons officially used.

They also write that “Pellet-firing shotguns are used both by the J&K police and the paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force. The J&K state government is also the relevant authority to provide reparation and ensure investigations into deaths and serious injuries caused by these weapons.”

But this is also confusing to a certain extent. Why is the campaign not addressed to the state as well as the center, since the CRPF is a central force? Adding to this confusion is an article by the Indian Express which says “Supreme Court Monday asked the central government to consider using alternative means other than pellet guns for crowd-control and to deal with protesters in Jammu and Kashmir.”

The article says the Supreme Court bench was hearing a petition filed by Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association. So again, why did Amnesty only address their campaign to the state government and not both the state and center? The army is nowhere in sight here also, although in certain places Amnesty also uses the general term of “security forces” in relation to who uses pellet guns.

So Does The Army Use Pellet Guns Or Not?

So, finally on the basis of this I can say that the Jammu and Kashmir police as well as the CRPF are supplied with and use pellet guns. But between the CRPF and the Jammu and Kashmir police I still can’t ascertain on the basis of the media who uses pellet guns more.

When it comes to the army, everything becomes even more hazy. Is the army supplied with pellet guns? Does the army carry those pellet guns with them to encounter sites? Does the army actually use the pellet guns? Do you know the answer?

This article doesn’t aim to answer these questions. It aims to show how such an important topic is covered in such a vague manner. Yes, the victims get most of the coverage, and rightly so. But I think the time has come to know who actually pulls the trigger.

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