Govt will form panel to review use of pellet guns says Rajnath Singh

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Home minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday announced the formation of an expert committee to look for alternatives to pellet guns. Singh announced his decision during his reply on Kashmir in the Lok Sabha. Pertinent to mention here almost 50-60 youths are fearing loss of complete eye sight after being hit by pellet fires during the ongoing turmoil in Kashmir.

One civilian has lost his life and 53 others have suffered eye injury because of pellet guns by security forces in Kashmir during recent protests. In 2010 Kashmir unrest, pellet guns had killed 6 and injured 100 people.

Meanwhile describing the youth of Kashmir as ‘patriots’, he said in “there is an attempt to misguide some” of them and a “mindset that stokes baseless anger against India”.

Singh further said that Pakistan played a “key role” in fuelling tension and that the situation was “normalising” gradually.

He also reached out to other political parties, saying the government alone cannot solve problems in Kashmir and all parties would have to work together.

“We all feel sad over the lives lost and those injured,” Singh said but added that “barbarism” can have no place in the society, citing incidents where some people had celebrated when some security personnel were killed.

Referring to concerns expressed by members over the use of pellet guns, the Home Minister said one person had died due to injuries caused by these weapons, while 50-60 suffered injuries in eyes.

“We will form a committee of experts. It will see to it what non-lethal alternatives we can bring in place of pellet guns. It will give report in two months,” he said.

He said these guns, categorised as non-lethal, had not been used in Kashmir for the first time as they had been used earlier in 2010 when six people had been killed by these and 98 had sustained eye injuries, with five suffering complete blindness.

Singh rejected criticism that security forces used pellet guns indiscriminately but at the same time said it cannot be denied that someone might have committed some mistakes.

He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has directed security forces to maintain “maximum restraint”.

“The youth of Kashmir are also patriots. There is an attempt to misguide some… There is a mindset that stokes baseless anger against India,” he said, adding that same “distorted mindset” can be seen in parts of Chhattisgarh, in a reference to Maoist violence there.

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