CRPF rejects RTI query on use of pellet guns in Kashmir

SRINAGAR: The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), which was deployed in Kashmir for maintaining law and order during the unrest following the killing of militant commander Burhan Wani in July, 2016, has rejected an application made under the RTI about the use of pellet guns besides refusing to share the data of personnel injured, saying it does not relate to violations of human rights.

Ishfaq Tantry

Tribune News Service

Srinagar, January 8

The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), which was deployed in Kashmir for maintaining law and order during the unrest following the killing of militant commander Burhan Wani in July, 2016, has rejected an application made under the RTI about the use of pellet guns besides refusing to share the data of personnel injured, saying it does not relate to violations of human rights.

The application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005, was filed by Venkatesh Nayak, who is Programme Coordinator at the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative.

In his application filed on December 22, 2016, Venkatesh had sought the “number of anti-riot weapons, popularly known as pellet guns, and the quantum of pellet ammunition actually used in J&K from July 1, 2016, till date” in the operations undertaken by the CRPF in J&K “in aid of the civilian authority to maintain law and order.” The RTI activist had also sought “the rank-wise number of CRPF personnel who have suffered injuries while conducting operations in the aid of the civilian authority in J&K from July 1, 2016, till date, excluding the names of the personnel injured.” Besides, Venkatesh had also sought the information regarding the “rank-wise number of CRPF personnel injured during operations in aid of the civilian authority in J&K who have been paid ex gratia or compensation since July 1, 2016, till date, along with the amount paid.” However, the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) of the CRPF, who is a DIG-rank official, in his reply indicated that there appeared to be no human rights violation made out in the queries raised under the RTI.

“After careful consideration of your application on the subject along with provisions contained in the RTI Act, it is to inform you that the security forces, including CRPF, are exempted from providing information except related to the allegation of corruption/violation of human rights under Section 24(1) of the RTI Act, 2005,” the CPIO said.

“In the instant matter, there appears to be no violation of human rights as well as facts of the case do not attract the allegations of corruption. Moreover, your application does not make any reference to such allegations. Hence this department is not liable to provide any information in this regard to you under the RTI Act,” the CPIO further said. Even as questions remain over the use of pellet guns for crowd-control in Kashmir, an earlier reply to an RTI application in December by a manufacturing company had revealed that no study had been conducted to understand the efficacy and impact of the pellets on human beings.

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