If PAVA fails, forces may use pellet guns in Kashmir

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On December 14 a year ago, the Supreme Court had said pellet guns should not be used "indiscriminately" for controlling street protests in Jammu and Kashmir and be resorted to only after "proper application of mind" by the authorities. "However, if these measures prove to be ineffective, use of pellet guns may be resorted", said MoS Home Hansraj Gangaram Ahir.

India was reconsidering pellet shotguns being used by its security forces when controlling crowds after widespread use of the weapons caused multiple casualties and stirred public anger back in July 2016.

Earlier, the court had issued notice to the Centre, the state government and the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) on the plea filed by Jammu-based advocate Ankur Sharma, alleging that benefits accruing to minorities were being taken away by Muslims, who were in majority in J-K.

The apex court had also sought the assistance of Attorney General on the issue and asked him to submit a copy of the report submitted by the Expert Committee constituted for exploring other alternatives to pellet guns.

"Appoint a committee of experts functioning under the direct supervision of this court to submit a comprehensive report identifying communities of the state of Jammu and Kashmir which qualify as religious and linguistic minorities", the PIL said. SC asked the government what action has been taken by it against their parents.

But the Bench asked the Centre to deal with Jammu and Kashmir first and gave four weeks time to devise a solution.

"We hope and expect that a fruitful decision will emerge on the next date of hearing", the Bench added.

The apex court had accorded the last opportunity to the Centre to file its reply, saying the matter is very important.

The lawyers' body had challenged a Jammu and Kashmir High Court order which said that it was entirely for security agencies to decide what kind of force was needed to be used in a given situation.

The high court had also declined to accept the plea to prosecute the officers who ordered use of pellet guns and those who actually fired them.

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