सीधे मुख्य सामग्री पर जाएं

Ordnance Factory denies info on sale of riot control weapons such as pellet guns

By Venkatesh Nayak*
Readers are aware that Kashmir has been in turmoil since the end of Ramzan, in July 2016. Almost every day, violent protesters have clashed with security forces across several districts in the Kashmir valley. According to media reports, the use of pump action shotguns to fire pellet cartridges has resulted in serious injuries to people, including innocent bystanders. Medical specialists have been rushed from Delhi and other cities to treat the injured. Meanwhile, the security forces are reported to have told the Jammu and Kashmir High Court that 3,000 pellet bearing cartridges and 8,650 tear gas cannisters have been used to disperse the protesters between July-August. According to recent media reports, the death toll has gone up to 80. Ambulances carrying the injured also bore the brunt of the violence. Hundreds of security personnel are reported to have suffered serious injuries, while on duty.
Meanwhile, the authorities are discussing alternative methods of dealing with violent mobs to minimise injury. The CRPF, which is the main paramilitary force deployed for restoring public order in the valley, is reported to have told the J&K High Court that given the dynamic and mobile situation on the ground it would be difficult to follow standard operating procedures (SoPs) for crowd control issued by the Government. They are reported to have said that the use of pellet guns is an approved method according to the SoPs for crowd control. They have also claimed that if pellet guns are done away with, they will have to resort to firing bullets which may hike up the casualty figures. The SOPs for crowd control that I obtained in 2012 through The Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act) do not contain any reference to pellet guns as an approved method of crowd control. These SOPs were drawn up after the episode of violent protests in Kashmir in 2010. Perhaps there is another crowd control SOP with the CRPF which it has not disclosed in the public domain.

Ordnance Factory, Khadki refuses access to information about the sale and efficacy of riot control weapons

Disturbed by the spiralling violence and the number of injuries and casualties reported all over Kashmir, I sought some information from the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) based in Kolkata, about the characteristics and specifications of anti-riot weapons, their sale price and quantum of sale since 2010 and evaluation reports about their efficacy and impact on human beings. The defence forces, paramilitary forces and State police organisations use several arms and ammunition manufactured at units operating under the control and supervision of the OFB. The paramilitary forces deployed in Kashmir are organisations notified as partially exempt from the coverage of the RTI Act, so there was no point in seeking information from them directly. As a rule they have refused access to information about their security-related activities in the past.
In July, 2016, I sought the following information from the OFB:
“I would like to obtain the following information from your public authority under the RTI Act, 2005 relating to the manufacture and sale of anti-riot weapons and related ammunition:
1) A clear photocopy of all official records/documents that describe the physical characteristics and specifications of all weapons and related ammunition manufactured for the purpose of riot control by the Ordnance Factories under your jurisdiction along with the name and location of the factories where manufactured;
2) A clear photocopy of all official records/documents containing the wholesale price and maximum retail price fixed currently for all categories of anti-riot weapons and related ammunition manufactured by the Ordnance Factories under your jurisdiction;
3) A clear photocopy of all official records/ documents relating to the sale of the anti-riot weapon- “12 Bore Pump Action Gun” and related ammunition containing specific details such as the identity of the buyer, date of sale, sale price, and quantity of such guns and related ammunition sold. Please provide the said information for every transaction that took place from 01 January 2010, till date; and
4) A clear photocopy of all studies relating to the efficacy and impact of the anti-riot weapon- “12 Bore Pump Action Gun” and all types of cartridges usable with such gun “held by” your public authority or which is “under the control of” your public authority as understood in terms of Section 2(j) of the RTI Act.”
The OFB circulated my RTI application to several desks and the responses trickled in. One desk pointed out that anti-riot weapons are not civilian trade items. It also pointed out that 12 bore pump action shot guns are a civilian trade item being issued only to the State Bank of India for security purposes. Another desk pointed out that the anti-riot weapons are issued to State organisations, so the information sought may not be disclosed under RTI. They also found that anti-riot weapons were primarily manufactured at the plant in Khadki, Pune and transferred my RTI application to the CPIO at Khadki. I am not sure whether the security forces used 12 Bore pump action shot guns in Kashmir. Media reports that I sifted through do not mention the exact specification of the gun used, the main discussion is about the nature of cartridges used. As this was the only type of pump action shot gun mentioned on the OFB’s website, I made a specific mention of it in the RTI application.
The CPIO of Khadki Ordnance Factory has replied that none of the information sought in the RTI application may be disclosed as it is “sensitive defence information”. How anti-riot weapons and ammunition, used internally, amount to “defence information” is perplexing to say the least. I had not asked information about weapons and ammunition used to defend the country against external aggression. I was only asking information about the specifications and characteristics, pricing and sales data about anti-riot weapons and copies of reports that indicate the efficacy of such weapons and their impact on human beings who are targeted. The queries were about weapons and ammunition used against citizens within the country. Even this information has been denied by invoking Section 8(1)(a) of the RTI Act without showing how India’s ‘security interests’ would be prejudicially affected by such disclosure.
Even more puzzling is the denial of all information on the ground that it is in the nature of commercial confidence, trade secrets and intellectual property whose disclosure may result in harm to the competitive position of a third party. It is not clear which third party’s interests the CPIO is trying to protect. I had sought information about anti-riot weapons manufactured and sold by the Khadki Ordnance Factory not by any other entity. So how the disclosure of data about prices, sales and physical characteristics about anti-riot weapons will be attracted by any of the exemptions under Section 8(1)(d) is a big mystery.
The OFB’s website contains information about the characteristics and specifications of even defence equipment, let alone civilian trade items like revolvers and sporting rifles which their units manufacture. Specifications about mortars, 155mm guns, machine guns and the like are found on the OFB’s website. Similarly there is considerable information about grenades and rocket bombs on the OFB’s website. Strangely, there is more proactive disclosure about the specifications of defence equipment than anti-riot weapons and ammunition which are used against citizens within the country.
Further, the CPIO’s argument that evaluation reports of anti-riot weapons cannot be disclosed on grounds of it being “sensitive defence information” related to commercial confidence, trade secrets and intellectual property is difficult to accept. In 2012, I was able to obtain not only the SOPs for crowd control but also the reports of the committee set up in 2010 that evaluated the efficacy of various methods available for crowd control.
When the Government has already disclosed the exact number of pellet cartridges and tear gas shells used to quell the violent protests in Kashmir before the High Court, there is no reason why sale price, quantum of sale and efficacy reports cannot be shared with the people proactively. The SOPs cannot be misused by vested interests as they do not contain any information about the strategies used by the forces to control protesting mobs. Similarly, sales data cannot be misused in any manner as it is taxpayer funds that are being used to buy the equipment and ammunition. Given the large scale of serious injuries to people in J&K there is an overwhelming public interest in disclosing the evaluation reports of riot control weapons including pellet guns.

*Programme Coordinator, Access to Information Programme, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, New Delhi

टिप्पणियाँ

ट्रेंडिंग

हिंदी आलोचना जैसे पिछड़ चुके अनुशासन की जगह हिंदी वैचारिकी का विकास जरूरी

- प्रमोद रंजन*   भारतीय राजनीति में सांप्रदायिक व प्रतिक्रियावादी ताकतों को सत्ता तक पहुंचाने में हिंदी पट्टी का सबसे बड़ा योगदान है। इसका मुख्य कारण हिंदी-पट्टी में कार्यरत समाजवादी व जनपक्षधर हिरावल दस्ते का विचारहीन, अनैतिक और  प्रतिक्रियावादी होते जाना है। अगर हम उपरोक्त बातों को स्वीकार करते हैं, तो कुछ रोचक निष्कर्ष निकलते हैं। हिंदी-जनता और उसके हिरावल दस्ते को विचारहीन और प्रतिक्रियावादी बनने से रोकने की मुख्य ज़िम्मेदारी किसकी थी?

ગુજરાતના સ્થાપના દિવસે યાદ કરીએ ભારતના વિશ્વપ્રસિદ્ધ ગુજરાતી પુરાતત્વવિદ્ ને

- ગૌરાંગ જાની*  આજે કોઈ ગુજરાતી એ કલ્પના પણ ન કરી શકે કે વર્ષ ૧૮૩૯ માં જૂનાગઢમાં જન્મેલા એક ગુજરાતી વિશ્વ પ્રસિદ્ધ બની શકે! પણ આપણે એ ગુજરાતીને કદાચ વિસરી ગયા છીએ જેમણે ગિરનારના અશોક શિલાલેખને દોઢસો વર્ષ પૂર્વે ઉકેલી આપ્યો.આ વિદ્વાન એટલે ભગવાનલાલ ઈન્દ્રજી. ૭ નવેમ્બર, ૧૮૩૯ ના દિવસે જૂનાગઢના પ્રશ્નોરા નાગર બ્રાહ્મણ પરિવારમાં તેમનો જન્મ થયો હતો. જૂનાગઢના એ સમયે અંગ્રેજી શિક્ષણની સગવડ ન હોવાને કારણે તેમને અંગ્રેજી ભાષાનું જ્ઞાન ન હતું પણ પાછળથી તેમણે ખપ પૂરતું અંગ્રેજી જાણી લીધું હતું.

Under Modi, democracy is regressing and economy is also growing slowly

By Avyaan Sharma*   India is "the largest democracy in the world", but now its democracy is regressing and its economy is also growing slowly. What has PM Modi's ten years in power brought us? Unemployment remains high. Joblessness is particularly high among India's youth - with those aged 15 to 29 making up a staggering 83% of all unemployed people in India, according to the "India Employment Report 2024", published last month by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Institute of Human Development (IHD). The BJP-led government did not provide jobs to two crore youth in a year as was promised by Modi in the run up to the 2014 general elections.

नफरती बातें: मुसलमानों में असुरक्षा का भाव बढ़ रहा है, वे अपने मोहल्लों में सिमट रहे हैं

- राम पुनियानी*  भारत पर पिछले 10 सालों से हिन्दू राष्ट्रवादी भारतीय जनता पार्टी (भाजपा) राज कर रही है. भाजपा आरएसएस परिवार की सदस्य है और आरएसएस का लक्ष्य है हिन्दू राष्ट्र का निर्माण. आरएसएस से जुड़ी सैंकड़ों संस्थाएँ हैं. उसके लाखों, बल्कि शायद, करोड़ों स्वयंसेवक हैं. इसके अलावा कई हजार वरिष्ठ कार्यकर्ता हैं जिन्हें प्रचारक कहा जाता है. भाजपा के सत्ता में आने के बाद से आरएसएस दुगनी गति से हिन्दू राष्ट्र के निर्माण के अपने एजेण्डे को पूरा करने में जुट गया है. यदि भाजपा को चुनावों में लगातार सफलता हासिल हो रही है तो उसका कारण है देश में साम्प्रदायिकता और साम्प्रदायिक मुद्दों का बढ़ता बोलबाला. इनमें से कुछ हैं राम मंदिर, गौमांस और गोवध एवं लव जिहाद. 

Laxmanpur Bathe massacre: Perfect example of proto-fascist Brahmanical social order

By Harsh Thakor  The massacre at Laxmanpur-Bathe of Jehanabad in Bihar on the night of 1 December in 1997 was a landmark event with distinguishing features .The genocide rightly shook the conscience of the nation in the 50th year of Indian independence. The scale of the carnage was unparalleled in any caste massacre. It was a perfect manifestation of how in essence the so called neo-liberal state was in essence most autocratic. 

ભારતમાં જિસસ ક્રાઈસ્ટના દર્શન, ખ્રિસ્તી ધર્મના આગમનને કારણે સમાજ વ્યવસ્થામાં પરિવર્તન

- ઉત્તમ પરમાર  મારી કિશોર અવસ્થામાં કેટલાક ચિત્રો અને મૂર્તિઓએ હૃદયમાં એવું સ્થાન જમાવ્યું છે કે આજદિન પર્યંત  ઉત્તરોઉત્તર વિકસતું જ રહ્યું છે. પ્રેમ કરુણાના મૂર્તિમંત અવતાર  જિસસ ક્રાઈસ્ટને વધુસ્તંભે ચઢાવેલી મૂર્તિ  મારી કોઈપણ ધર્મ વિશેની સમજ નહોતી ત્યારથી મારા હૃદયમાં સ્થાપિત થયેલી છે. મારા ઘરની દિવાલ પર વધસ્તંભે ચઢેલા જીસસની પ્રતિમા જોઈને કોઈ મને પૂછી બેસતું કે તું ક્રિશ્ચન છે?

रैंकिंग: अधिकांश भारतीय विश्वविद्यालयों का स्तर बहुत गिरा, इस साल भी यह गिरवाट जारी

- प्रमोद रंजन*  अप्रैल, 2024 में भारतीय विश्वविद्यालयों की अंतर्राष्ट्रीय स्तर पर उच्च रैंकिंग की चर्चा रही। मीडिया ने इसका उत्सव मनाया। लेकिन स्थिति इसके विपरीत है। वैश्विक विश्वविद्यालय रैंकिग में अच्छा स्थान मिलने की खबरें, कुछ संस्थानों को इक्का-दुक्का विषयों में मिले रैंक के आधार पर चुनिंदा ढंग से प्रकाशित की गईं थीं। वास्तविकता यह है कि हाल के वर्षों में हमारे अधिकांश विश्वविद्यालयों का स्तर बहुत गिर गया है। इस साल भी यह गिरवाट जारी रही है।

नोएडा में मैन्युअल स्कैवेंजर्स की मौत: परिवारों को मुआवजा नहीं, प्राधिकरण ने एफआईआर नहीं की

- अरुण खोटे, संजीव कुमार*  गत एक सप्ताह में, उत्तर प्रदेश में सीवर/सेप्टि क टैंक सफाई कर्मियों की सफाई के दौरान सेप्टिक टैंक में मौत। 2 मई, 2024 को, लखनऊ के वज़ीरगजं क्षेत्र में एक सेवर लाइन की सफाई करते समय शोब्रान यादव, 56, और उनके पत्रु सशुील यादव, 28, घटुन से हुई मौत। एक और घटना 3 मई 2024 को नोएडा, सेक्टर 26 में एक घर में सेप्टि क टैंक को सफाई करते समय दो सफाई कर्मचर्मारी नूनी मडंल, 36 और कोकन मडंल जिसे तपन मडंल के नाम से जानते हैं, की मौत हो गई। ये सफाई कर्मचर्मारी बंगाल के मालदा जिले के निवासी थे और नोएडा सेक्टर 9 में रहते थे। कोकन मडंल अपनी पत्नी अनीता मडंल के साथ रहते थे। इनके तीन स्कूल जाने वाले बच्चे हैं जो बंगाल में रहते हैं। नूनी मडंल अपनी पत्नी लिलिका मडंल और अपने पत्रु सजुान के साथ किराए पर झग्गी में रहते थे। वे दैनिक मजदरूी और सफाई कर्मचर्मारी के रूप में काम करते थे।

प्राचीन भारत के लोकायत संप्रदाय ने कुछ परजीवियों की खूब खबर ली: प्रमुख प्रस्थापनायें

- राणा सिंह   भारत में परजीवियों का एक विशाल समूह है जो बोलता है कि “सब कुछ माया है”,  लेकिन व्यवहार में यह समूह सारी जिंदगी इसी “माया” के पीछे पागल रहता है।  प्राचीन भारत के लोकायत संप्रदाय ने इन परजीवियों की खूब खबर ली थी।

बिहार के ऐतिहासिक विक्रमशिला विश्वविद्यालय के खंडहरों की परिक्रमा का रोमांचक अवसर

- सुमन्त शरण  कुछ दिन पहले एक सुदूर ग्रामीण अंचल (पीरपैंती)  से तकरीबन डेढ़-दो घंटे की दूरी पर अवस्थित ऐतिहासिक बौद्ध विक्रमशिला विश्वविद्यालय (के अवशेषों) की परिक्रमा का अवसर मिला। विक्रमशीला विश्वविद्यालय की स्थापना पाल वंश के राजा धर्मपाल ने की थी। 8वीं शताब्दी से 12वीं शताब्दी के अंत तक यह विश्वविद्यालय भारत के प्रमुख शिक्षा केंद्रों में से एक हुआ करता था। कहा जाता है कि यह अपने कुछेक अत्यंत अनूठे नवाचार के चलते उस समय नालंदा विश्वविद्यालय का सबसे बड़ा प्रतिस्पर्धी था। हालांकि, मान्यता यह भी है कि अल्प अवधि के लिए दोनों विश्वविद्यालय के बीच शिक्षण एवं प्रबंधन के क्षेत्रों में घनिष्ठ पारस्परिक संबंध एवं शिक्षकों के आदान-प्रदान का सिलसिला भी रहा था। यह विश्वविद्यालय तंत्रशास्त्र की पढ़ाई के लिए सबसे ज्यादा विख्यात था। इस विषय का एक सबसे विख्यात छात्र अतीसा दीपनकरा था, जो बाद में तिब्बत जाकर बौद्ध हो गया। इसके प्रथम कुलपति ज्ञान अतिस थे।