Skip to main content

CRPF doesn’t own up responsibility for using pellet guns on innocent

By Venkatesh Nayak*
Readers may recollect my despatches from September and December 2016 describing my efforts to find out details about the sale and the efficacy of anti-riot weapons- particularly, pellet guns, which have caused severe injuries to hundreds of youth in various parts of Jammu and Kashmir. Both the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) and the First Appellate Authority (FAA) of the Khadki Ordnance Factory (OFK) rejected my request for information about the quantum of sale of anti-riot weapons such as pellet guns to security personnel on grounds of national security and commercial confidence. The FAA clearly stated in his order that OFK was not manufacturing the pellet guns being used by security agencies across the country but only the ammunition. He also held that OFK did not have any reports about the efficacy of such ammunition, especially, their impact on human beings. Now the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) which actually uses such weapons for dealing with protesters has denied access to all information about the action taken in J&K since July 2016.

CRPF holds that information about pellet-guns is not related to human rights violation

After reaching a dead end with the OFK, in December 2016, I sought the following information under The Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act) from the CRPF about its operations in J&K since the unrest erupted:
“Apropos of the operations undertaken by the CRPF in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) since July 2016 in aid of civilian authority to maintain law and order, I would like to obtain the following detailed information under the RTI Act:
1) A clear photocopy of the Standard Operating Procedures (SoPs) required to be used by the CRPF to disperse stone-pelting mobs in J&K;
2) A clear photocopy of the SoPs required to be used by the CRPF to disperse large assemblages of people other than stone-pelting mobs in J&K;
3) The name and postal address of the vendor(s) from whom the anti-riot weapon popularly known as “pellet guns” and relevant ammunition were procured for use in J&K;
4) The number of anti-riot weapons popularly known as pellet guns and the quantum of pellet ammunition actually used in J&K from 01 July, 2016 till date;
5) The rank-wise number of CRPF personnel who have suffered injuries while conducting operations in aid of civilian authority in J&K from 01 July, 2016 till date (names are not required);
6) The rank-wise number of CRPF personnel injured during operations in aid of civilian authority in J&K who have been paid ex gratia or compensation since 01 July 2016, till date, along with the amount of monies paid;
7) The rank-wise number of CRPF personnel who have been promoted to higher ranks in recognition of their performance while acting in aid of civilian authority in J&K since July 2016. Please provide the erstwhile rank and the rank to which each CRPF official or officer was promoted subsequently (names are not required).”
The CPIO has replied that there appears to be no human rights violation made out in the queries in my RTI application, so the request is being rejected.
I was pursuing the following objectives in this RTI application:
1) The SoPs developed by a Government-convened expert committee after a similar period of civilian unrest in J&K in 2010 (which I obtained under the RTI Act in 2012), do not make any mention of allowing the use of pellet guns for dispersing stone pelting mobs even though an entire section was devoted to such mobs in open areas and narrow lanes and streets. So para-military forces like the CRPF are perhaps using a different SoP that authorises the use of such severe measures (known euphemistically as “less-lethal measures”). To the best of my knowledge, these SoPs are not available in the public domain.
2) As the FAA of OFK clearly stated that they were not manufacturing the pellet guns, CRPF was obviously buying them from some other manufacturer. As these weapons are purchased using the taxpayer’s money, every citizen has the right to know from where they buy such weapons.
3) Both the Central Government and the J&K Government repeatedly pointed out that the well armed CRPF and other security personnel had suffered badly at the hands of the protesters (who mostly pelted stones), I sought to know the number of CRPF personnel who had suffered injuries and who had been paid compensation. I had clarified that I did not want the names of such injured personnel.
4) As it is common practice in most security agencies to promote personnel for their performance on the field, especially in situations like J&K, I sought to know the number and rank of CRPF personnel who had been promoted for duties performed in J&K since July 2016. Again I clarified that I did not want any names.

What is problematic in the CRPF’s reply?

1) The CRPF seems to think that the SoP for controlling both stone-pelting and non-stone-pelting mobs have no relationship at all to allegations of human rights violations. Despite case after case of innocent bystanders including very young boys and girls injured severely by pellets fired by security personnel being highlighted by the media, the CRPF does not want to own up responsibility. When SoPs are kept a secret, how can victim bystanders assess whether the actions taken by the CRPF personnel were excessive or not; how can they make a case for compensation and demand accountability of security personnel who caused them injury for no fault of theirs?
2) The CRPF seems to think that the injuries caused to their personnel by stone pelting mobs also do not amount to a violation of their human rights. So why are the Central and State Governments making these injuries such a big issue when the CRPF itself thinks that the human rights of their personnel have not been violated? Numerous bleeding-heart panelists on prime time TV must take note of this and direct their shrill voices at the contradictory statements of these governments instead of heckling human rights avdocators who talk about injuries sustained on both sides of the conflict.
The CRPF’s reply comes as no surprise, because, in 2014 also, the CPIO said in response to another RTI application of mine that the death of its personnel while on election duty due to blasting landmines allegedly planted by militant groups in Chhattisgarh and Bihar, also did not constitute human rights violation. So while civilians and security personnel are dying due to conflict, the CRPF seems to think that none of these amount to violation of human rights on either side of the conflict. Perhaps the fundamental right to life guaranteed under Part III is indeed becoming hollow.

CRPF Board’s recommendations for out of turn promotions

The CRPF also does not want to disclose how many of its personnel were rewarded for their performance in J&K in recent months. There is an urgent need to make such information public for the following reasons:
On 22 July, 2016 i.e., within two weeks of the eruption of unrest in J&K, a Board of Officers of the CRPF gave detailed recommendations regarding the criteria for awarding out of turn promotions to CRPF personnel who showed “extraordinary courage/displayed gallant action during fighting with anti-national/extremist elements”. These recommendations refer to the “valiant performance” of CRPF personnel in areas like J&K apart from areas affected by Left Wing Extremist militancy and the need to give them out of turn promotions to boost their morale and recognise their gallant action and courage. Till date such out of turn promotions were apparently being given only for excellence in Sports.
These recommendations for granting out of turn promotion pertain to instances of CRPF personnel on whom gallantry awards are conferred or whose actions result in the capture of leaders of militant groups who carry a reward of Rs. 1 crore (USD 147,300) on their heads or where personnel suffer severe injuries or amputations in such operations. Similarly, the Board recommended out of turn promotions for those displaying extraordinary courage and gallantry in high risk conditions such as natural calamities. A committee with representation from a Joint Secretary level officer in the Union Home Ministry will make recommendations for such out of turn promotions. So far so good, but the last para of the recommendations is worth highlighting:
“These recommendations are merely illustrative and not exhaustive. The competent authority may consider to revise, add or delete category of personnel deserving such incentives as the case may be.”
So, in effect the DG, CRPF or any other competent authority could add new categories of personnel who deserve out of turn promotions. It is entirely in the public interest to know whether any personnel have been rewarded with out of turn promotions or other benefits for operations conducted in the areas of unrest in J&K.
According to news reports, 80% of the 635 individuals who sustained eye injuries due to pellet guns since July 2016, are aged below 26 years. While medical experts were airdashed to the valley to provide emergency care to the injured during the initial weeks of the unrest, how will these young victims lead the rest of their lives with partial or complete blindness is a question that both the Central and the State Governments must think about and take remedial action.
Residents of J&K and other citizens must use the RTI Act more frequently to find out whether out of turn promotions are being granted to the CRPF personnel for working in J&K when the Central and the State Governments are not even talking about giving compensation to innocent bystanders who were injured by pellet guns.

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

Comments

TRENDING

CAG’s audit report creates a case for dismantling of UIDAI, scrapping Aadhaar

By Gopal Krishna  The total estimated budget of the biometric UID/Aadhaar number project and its cost: benefit analysis has not been disclosed till date. Unless the total estimated budget of the project is revealed, all claims of benefits are suspect and untrustworthy. How can one know about total savings unless the total cost is disclosed? Can limited audit of continuing expenditure of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), an instrumentality of Union of India be deemed a substitute for total estimated budget of the biometric UID/Aadhaar number project of UIDAI? It has been admitted by CAG that the audit of functioning of the UIDAI is partial because of non-transparency. The report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India arising from performance audit of functioning of the UIDAI for the period from 2014-15 to 2018-19 is incomplete because it is based on statistical information “to the extent as furnished by UIDAI” upto March 2021. There is also a need to compa

Women for Water: WICCI resource council for empowering women entrepreneurs, leaders

By Mansee Bal Bhargava*  The Water Resources Council of the Women’s Indian Chamber of Commerce & Industry is formed for 2022-24. A National Business Chamber for Women, the Women’s Indian Chamber of Commerce & Industry ( WICCI ) is a premier association empowering women entrepreneurs and leaders in all walks of life through advocacy, pro-active representations to government, implementing projects for women via funds allocated by various government agencies and corporates, plus bringing awareness on all issues that concern women. WICCI boosts and builds women’s entrepreneurship and businesses through greater engagement with government, institutions, global trade and networks. WICCI enables fundamental changes in governmental policies, laws, incentives and sanctions through proper channel, with a view to robustly encourage and empower women in business, industry and commerce across all sectors. WICCI is supported by the massive global networks of ALL Ladies League (ALL), Women Eco

75 yrs of water in India: whither decentralised governance to sustain the precious resource?

By Shubhangi Rai, Megha Gupta, Fawzia Tarannum, Mansee Bal Bhargava Looking into the last century, water resources management have come a long way from the living with water in the villages to the nimbyism and capitalism in the cities to coming full cycle with room for water in the villages. With the climate change induced water crisis, the focus on conservation and management of water resources if furthered in both national and local agenda. The Water management 2021 report by NITI Aayog acknowledges that water and sustainability are of immense importance for the sustenance of life on earth. Water is intricately linked to the health, food security and livelihood. With business as usual, India’s water availability will only be enough to meet 50% of its total demand and 40% of the population in India will have no access to drinking water and sanitation by 2030 . Its Composite Water Management Index 2021 states that ‘India is suffering from the worst water crisis in its history and mil

Grassroot innovations in water management: Policy challenges amidst climate change

By Shubhangi Rai[1], Megha Gupta[2], Mansee Bal Bhargava[3] India despite of having a vast traditional water management history continue to struggle with water crisis from disasters like floods and droughts but more with social distress leading to asymmetric access to water goods and services. The rising water crisis in a country that is abundant in water resources and wisdom is worth questioning and resolving. The knowledge that was passed on by our ancestors who used a diverse range of structures that helped harvest rainwater locally besides replenish and recharge the groundwater along the way. Formal and informal rules were locally crafted by the community on who to use the water, how much to use, when to use, how to penalise for misuse, how to resolve conflicts and many more. As a nation, we need to revive our dying wisdom of the traditional water management systems and as water commons, enable the governing mechanisms towards sustainability. In the session on ‘ Grassroot Innovatio

Need to destroy dowry, annihilate greed and toxic patriarchy in India

By IMPRI Team Talking about an evil ever-persistent in our society and highlighting the presence of toxic patriarchy, #IMPRI Gender Impact Studies Center (GISC) , IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi organized a panel discussion on Destroy Dowry: Annihilation of Greed and Toxic Patriarchy in India under the series The State of Gender Equality – #GenderGaps on May 4, 2022. The chair for the event was Prof Vibhuti Patel, Former Professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai and a Visiting Professor, IMPRI. The distinguished panel included – Asha Kulkarni, General Secretary at Anti Dowry Movement, Mumbai ; Kamal Thakar, Sahiyar Stree Sangathan ; Adv Celin Thomas, Advocate at Celin Thomas and Associates, Bengaluru; Shalini Mathur, Honorary Secretary, Suraksha Dahej Maang Virodhi Sanstha Tatha Parivar Paraamarsh Kendra, Lucknow and Secretary, Nav Kalyani Foundation, Gender Resource and Training Centre; and Dr Bharti Sharma, Honorary Secretary, Shakti Shalini

Impact of climate change on Gujarat pastoralists' traditional livelihood

By Varsha Bhagat-Ganguly, Karen Pinerio* We are sharing a study[1] based learning on climate resilience and adaptation strategies of pastoralists of Kachchh district, Gujarat. There are two objectives of the study: (i) to examine the impact of climate on traditional livelihood of pastoralists of Gujarat state; and (ii) to explore and document the adaptation strategies of pastoralists in mitigating climate adversities, with a focus on the role of women in it. In order to meet these objectives, the research inquiries focused on how pastoralists perceive climate change, how climate change has impacted their traditional livelihood, i.e., pastoralism in drylands (Krätli 2015), and how these pastoral families have evolved adaptation strategies that address climate change (CC)/ variabilities, i.e., traditional livelihood of pastoralists of Kachchh district, Gujarat state. Pastoralism is more than 5,000 years old land-use strategy in India; it is practised by nomadic (their entire livelihood r

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: Implications for India and emerging geopolitics

By IMPRI Team In the backdrop of the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, #IMPRI Center for International Relations and Strategic Studies (CIRSS) , IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi hosted a panel discussion on Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine: Implications for India and Emerging Geopolitics. The event was chaired by Ambassador Anil Trigunayat (IFS Retd.), Former Ambassador to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Libya, and Malta; Former Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of India, Moscow. The panelists of the event were Prof Waheguru Pal Singh Sidhu, Clinical Professor, Center for Global Affairs, New York University; H.E. Freddy Svane, Ambassador, Royal Danish Embassy, New Delhi; Maj. Gen. (Dr) P. K. Chakravorty, Strategic Thinker on Security Issues; and T. K. Arun, Senior Journalist, and Columnist. Ambassador Anil Trigunayat commenced the discussion by stating the fact that wars are evil. He opines that no war has ever brought peace and prosperity to any country and

Making Indian cities disaster, climate resilient: Towards actionable urban planning

By IMPRI Team  Three-Day Online Certificate Training Programme on “Making Indian Cities Disaster and Climate Change Resilient: Towards Responsive and Actionable Urban Planning, Policy and Development”: Day 1 A three day Online Certificate Training Programme on the theme “Making Indian Cities Disaster and Climate Change Resilient: Towards Responsive and Actionable Urban Planning, Policy and Development”, a joint initiative of the National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM) , Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, was held at the Centre for Habitat, Urban and Regional Studies at IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi. Inaugurating the session Ms. Karnika Arun, Researcher at IMPRI, welcomed the speakers and participants to the program with an introduction to the eminent panellists. Day 1 of the program included Prof Anil K Gupta, Head ECDRM, NIDM, New Delhi and Mr Tikender Singh Panwar, Former Deputy Mayor, Shimla; Visiting Senior Fellow, IMPRI as conveners, an

Gender gap: Women face disproportionate barriers in accessing finance

By IMPRI Team Women worldwide disproportionately face barriers to financial access that prevents them from participating in the economy and improving their lives. Providing access to finance for women is crucial for financial inclusion and, consequently, inclusive growth. To deliberate and encourage dialogue and discussion for growth, the Gender Impact Studies Center (GISC) of IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi, organized a web policy talk by Mr S. S. Bhat, Chief Executive Officer Friends of Women’s World Banking India, Ahmedabad on ‘Access to Finance for Women’ as a part of its series The State of Gender Equality – #GenderGaps. The session was started by the moderator, Chavi Jain, by introducing the speaker and the discussants and inviting Prof. Vibhuti Patel to start the deliberation. Importance of access to finance for women Prof. Vibhuti Patel, Visiting Professor, IMPRI, New Delhi; Former Professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai, began by expre

Hindutva patriotism: State-sponsored effort to construct religion-based national identity

By Harasankar Adhikari Rabindranath Tagore (1908) said, "Patriotism can’t be our final spiritual shelter. "I will not buy glass for a diamond, and I will never let patriotism triumph over humanity as long as I live." Tagore’s view stands in sharp contrast to what we are witnessing today, when patriotism means religious differences between the majority (Hindu) and minority (Muslim). Our secular nation is gradually disobeying its secular nature and it is being patronised by political leaders and their narrow politics. India’s unique character of ‘unity in diversity’ is trying to be saffronised. Hindu extremism (Hindutvavadis) generates a culture of religious intolerance. Democratic India is based upon the ideology of equality of all. This nation is based upon different foundations than most of those which went before it. Its legitimacy lies in its being able to satisfy its various component communities that their interests will be safeguarded by the Indian state