Discontinue use of pellet guns for crowd control: HC

High Court today said the state government should discontinue use of pellet guns for crowd control during law and order situation in view of the statement made by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in Parliament.

“The (Union) Home Minister has said in the Lok Sabha that an expert committee will be framed to find substitutes to pellet guns. “This statement should be sufficient for the government to discontinue the use of pellet guns,” a division bench of the court said here while hearing a PIL.

The bench comprising Chief Justice N Paul Vasanthakumar and Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar said Singh’s statement also meant that the pellet guns were “not non-lethal”. Home Minister’s statement meant that in Kashmir it is not non-lethal weapon, the court said, adding the procedures have to be reasonable, fair and just.

The court directed the government to provide necessary treatment to all those injured in the ongoing unrest and shift those, who need specialized medical attention, out of the state. “Ensure that treatment is provided to the patients. Shift those who need specialized treatment,” it said.

Observing that “when a person loses his eyesight, he loses everything, he loses universe”, the division bench said, “No sensitive soul can bear looking at these pictures (in a newspaper of a minor boy injured in security forces action). He is a five-year-old child. You cannot accuse him of throwing stones”.

The court also asked the government not to interfere in the working of voluntary organizations which were helping people. “These are highly abnormal times for the people of Jammu and Kashmir. You should not stop the voluntary organizations.

“Please do not do it. You must encourage them. Please also do not interfere with the working of NGOs who are distributing medicine to the people,” the court said, asking the government to ensure opening of medical shops even in night hours. The court also asked the government to provide relaxation in the curfew at least in certain peaceful areas. “It has been 14-15 days. For how many days can you shut the doors? There must be some relaxation, at least in some peaceful areas.

“The other day, they announced relaxation but some unwise people advised you otherwise. They are making their own people suffer. Have some wise people who can advise the government,” it said.

The division bench said the government must also ensure everybody gets ration and other essential items. “People should not suffer,” it said.

Court also asked the Jammu and Kashmir Bank to keep open its ATMs and branches so that people can avail the facilities. “You have your (security) protection and you can also approach police (for protection) if there is need,” it said.

Meanwhile, in a written order, the court, while referring to a news report about a five-year-old boy from south Kashmir’s Kokernag, who is battling pellet injuries in his eyes at SMHS hospital, said “such incidents shall have to be taken note of by the state for not only giving appropriate treatment but also to give compensation to the affected persons/families”.

The court directed the Director Health Services Kashmir and Principal Government Medical College Srinagar to ensure that the patients admitted for retina surgery and other eye treatment “are treated without loss of time” and sought a status report by July 26.

The division bench directed the law enforcement agencies not to close any medical shop during the times when there are restrictions and, wherever necessary, protection be provided for selling of medicines as the state cannot allow people to suffer for want of medicines. The court said it is also reported that about 140 patients need retina surgeries within the next three weeks.

It is also reported that hospital can conduct surgeries of three to four patients in a day which means roughly 28 surgeries in a week can be made and to operate upon 140 patients, it may take about five weeks. “However, the patients need to be operated upon within three weeks after getting the primary treatment of the injury and if there is delay the patients eye globe will shrink and will become visually disabled for life,” the court said.

It said if the details in the news reports were found to be true, immediate steps have to be taken to treat patients including conducting of retina surgeries. “Want of space or operation table or surgical items or surgeons cannot be an answer to deny timely treatment to the patients who are to be treated for getting vision in their eyes.

“Hence we direct the Director Health Services Kashmir as well as the Principal Government Medical College Srinagar to go through the said news item and take a decision forthwith so as to enable the persons admitted for eye treatment are treated without loss of time…. A status report to this effect shall be filed by July 26,” the court said.


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