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

Sorry state of Indian academics: why was I thrown out of Delhi varsity interview room?

By Dr. Abhay Kumar*  The interview for the post of political science (Guest) was scheduled on Saturday afternoon, September 10, 2022. Given my previous experience, I was not willing to appear for it. But friends persuaded me to go and fight for our rights. I reached the college well before the time. When my turn came and I entered the room. The first question was asked about my experience. I said that I had taught for four semesters at NCWEB. I mentioned that I had taught ”Comparative politics”, “International Relations”, “Comparative Political Thoughts” and “Indian Government and Politics”. I said that as a teacher I had taught all the articles listed in the syllabus of the same Delhi University and the expert could ask anything about any reading or ideas. Friends, the first question asked by a female member, perhaps she is the principal of the college if I am not wrong, to give the full form of NCWEB! The second question asked by a male expert, perhaps he is the political science dep

Musician and follower of Dr Ambedkar? A top voilinist has this rare combination!

Some time back, a human rights defender, Vidya Bhushan Rawat, who frequently writes for Counterview, forwarded to me a video interview with Guru Prabhakar Dhakade, calling him one of India's well known violinists.  Dhakade is based in Nagpur and has devoted his life for the Hindustani classical music. A number of his disciples have now been part of Hindi cinema world in Mumbai, says Rawat. He has performed live in various parts of the country as well as abroad. What however attracted me was Dhakade's assertions in video about Dr BR Ambedkar, India's undisputed Dalit icon. Recorded several years back at his residence and music school in Nagpur, Dhakade not only speaks candidly about issues he faced, but that he is a believer in Dr Ambedkar's philosophy. It is in this context that Dhakade narrates his problems, even as stating that he is determined to achieve his goal. A violinist and a follower of Ambedkar? This was new to me. Rarely do musicians are found to take a

Tokens, symbols or incipient feminists? : First generation women sociologists in India

By IMPRI Team  The online event on the theme ‘Tokens, Symbols or Incipient Feminists? : The first Generation of Women Sociologists in India’ was held as an initiative of Gender Impact Studies Center (GISC), IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi under the #WebPolicyTalk series of The State of Gender Equality – #GenderGaps. Inaugurating the session, Zubiya Moin welcomed the speaker and participants to the program, followed by an introduction to the eminent panelists. Commencing the program, Prof Vibhuti Patel made her opening remarks welcoming Prof Kamla Ganesh, Feminist Sociologists and then greeted Prof Ratna Naidu and the editors of book ‘Reimaging Sociology in India: Feminist Perspective’, Dr Gita Chadha and Dr. Joseph M.T. along with Prof Arvinder Ansari and also welcomed all participants. She set up the stage by making us familiar with women sociologists and their works. Dr Gita Chadha, Editor of the book ‘Reimaging Sociology in India: Feminist Perspective’ After th

Omission of duty by BSF and police: Hindu forcefully kidnapped, taken to Bangladesh

Kirity Roy, Secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), & National Convenor, Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity (PACTI) writes to the Chairman, National Human Rights Commission: *** I am writing this to focus on the life and situation of the poor and marginalized villagers living alongside the Indo-Bangladesh border of West Bengal. Through the several complaints we made throughout the years to your good office, it is now evident that the people of this border are living in an acute crisis, not only from a financial perspective but also in terrible distress. The people of the border are devoid of their basic rights and are subjected to immense torture, harassment and restrictions mostly enacted by the Border Security Force personnel, who are supposed to be posted at the international borders with intentions to protect the Indian citizenry. However, on the contrary, incidents of victimizing Indian citizens are being witnessed at large by the BSF. 130 Bhot

Emerging dimensions of India’s foreign policy in the context of global politics

By IMPRI Team  The three-day course took place recently, providing participants with an understanding of the development of Indian foreign policy, the complexity of geopolitics, and its flexibility to adjust to and even shape global outcomes. Many distinguished academics, senior scholars, former Indian diplomats, and journalists who are skilled observers and commentators of India’s foreign policy will serve as instructors for this course. Day 1 The three-day immersive online certificate training on “Emerging Dimensions of India’s Foreign Policy and Global Politics”, an initiative by the Center for International Relations and Strategic Studies (CIRSS) at IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute (IMPRI), began on July 14th, 2022 at 5:00 PM (IST) on Zoom platform. Dr Souravie Ghimiray served as the emcee throughout the 3 days of the event and welcomed the distinguished speakers of Day 1. The esteemed panel on Day 1 consisted of, Dr Soumita Basu, Associate Professor, Department of Intern

Demographic parameters of India@75: resource allocation, political representation

By IMPRI Team  As per UN Population Prospects 2022, India is going to be the most populous country in the world. In this regard, IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi with #IMPRI Center for Human Dignity and Development (CHDD) , organized a panel discussion, #WebPolicyTalk, as part of the series The State of Population Development- #PopulationAnd Development on India@75: Most Populous Country? The moderator of the event was Mr Devender Singh, Global Studies Programme, University of Freiburg and a Visiting Senior Fellow at IMPRI. The panellists for the event were Prof P.M Kulkarni, Demographer, Retired Professor of Population Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University(JNU) , New Delhi; Dr U.V Somayajulu, Co-Founder, CEO and Executive Director, Sigma Research and Consulting ; Dr Sonia George, General Secretary, Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), Kerala; Prof K.S James, Director and Senior Professor, International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS), Mumbai. Th

Tamil Nadu govt claiming to reform Hindu religion, temples. People deserve better

By NS Venkataraman  For the last several decades, there have been hate campaign against Hinduism in Tamil Nadu in a subtle or not so subtle manner. Initially, it was a hate campaign against brahmins and the brahmins were abused, insulted and physically attacked. Fearing such conditions, many brahmin families left Tamil Nadu to settle down in other states in India or have gone abroad. Now, the brahmin population in Tamil Nadu is at microscopic level, for which these hate campaigners against brahmins were responsible. Later on, emboldened by the scenario of scared brahmin families not resisting and running away, the hate campaigners started focusing on Hindus. For some years, when M.G.Ramachandran and Jayalalitha were the chief ministers of the state, the hate Hindu campaigners were not much heard, as both these chief ministers were staunch believers in Hindu philosophy and have been offering prayers in temples in full public view. However, in the last eighteen months in

Bhagawat Gita shows the way for the attitude to life and desirable goal of life

By NS Venkataraman*  When a mother delivers a human body, this body has no identity. Then, parents, relatives, friends consult each other and discuss the alternate appropriate names and arrive at a suitable name for this human body and this body is known and identified by this name. This human body, which steadily grow just like animals, plants and others and after experiencing the pleasures and pains of worldly life alternately for several years, perish one day, for the body to be burnt or buried. This body, bearing a name as it’s identity, comes in to the world and goes away from the world and the name that is the identity for the body also goes away along with the body. This is the scenario for several thousands of years that have gone by. The question: One question that does not seem to be still “convincingly explained” in a way that will appeal to the brain in the human body, is as to whether this human body only consists of flesh, bone and blood with well

Implementing misleading govt order to pollute Hyderabad's 100 year old reservoirs

Senior activists* represent to the Telangana Governor on GO Ms 69 dated 12.4.2022 issued by the Municipal Administration and Urban Development (MA&UD), Government of Telangana: ‘...restrictions imposed under para 3 of said GO Ms 111 dated 8.3.1996 are removed...’: *** Ref: GO Ms 111 dated 8.3.1996: ‘To prohibit polluting industries, major hotels, residential colonies or other establishments that generate pollution in the catchment of the lakes upto 10kms from full tank level as per list in Annexure-I...’ We come to your office with grievance that GO Ms 69 dated 12.4.2022 issued by Government of Telangana not only contains false information issued ‘By Order and in the name of the Governor of Telangana’ , without any scientific or expert reports, but also that implementation of the said GO is detrimental and can be catastrophic to the Hyderabad city as two 100 year old reservoirs Osman Sagar and Himayath Sagar were constructed as dams on river Moosa and river Esa, with the first and

Tattoos and intimidating gestures can't always win cricket matches for India

By Sudhansu R Das  Team India waited with baited breath for the outcome of the Pakistan vs Afghanistan match. Speculation was on about India’s return to the game if Pakistan loses to Afghanistan until Pakistan’s tailender, Naseem hit two massive sixes to win the match for Pakistan. Unfortunately, Afghanistan lost the match after being in a strong position till the last over of the game; two full touch balls in the final over turned the match into Pakistan side. The Afghanistan team would never forget this blunder and shock for a long time. India’s team management should introspect and take tough decision keeping in view of the tough match situation in the world cup matches. India lost two crucial matches in the Asia Cup. It could not defend a big total of 176 against Pakistan due to mediocre bowling attack, sloppy fielding and unimaginative captainship. It failed against Sri Lanka in similar fashion; it could not defend another respectable T 20 total of 171 runs. It was a pat