Pellet Guns: SC Wants Kashmir Students To Stop Hurling Stones First

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court of India said that to bring normalcy in Kashmir Valley it is essential that the civilians, especially the school and college going students should first stop hurling stones at the security forces.

The court said the students must return back to their colleges and schools.

Hearing a petition filed by the Jammu & Kashmir High Court Bar Association, the apex court bench comprising chief justice J.S. Khehar, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul asked the Bar to persuade the stakeholders in the Valley to file an undertaking that they would give up violence.

The Bar Association countered that security forces entered schools and universities and beat up students. “If they beat up the students, students will be on the streets. Throwing of stones is a reaction. The Centre has stopped talking to the people of Kashmir. The people want uninterrupted, unconditional and sincere dialogue,” the Bar’s counsel submitted.

The court asked stakeholders in Kashmir to “take two steps back” as a resolution could be initiated only if there is no violence and pellets fired by the security forces.

But as the “first step forward”, the court insisted, the Bar Association, the petitioner in the case, should persuade these stakeholders to file undertakings in the court that they will abstain from violence.

“Both sides need to take two steps back and address core issues. You cannot clap without both hands,” Justice Kaul observed.

Reportedly, the court said that once the undertaking is filed, tentatively on May 9, it would ask the central government to pull back security forces for at least 15 days.

The court said that a stage for talks between stakeholders and influential public voices in Kashmir and the Centre could be set only in the absence of violence.

Replying to this suggestion by the court, the Bar Council said they have little influence over the stakeholders in the Valley. However, the Justice Chandrachud made it plain that having come to the court in the role of an interlocutor, they cannot now back out.

It bears mention that Kashmir Bar Association had filed an appeal against the High Court order seeking stay on the use of pellet guns as a large number of people had been killed and hundreds blinded by the ‘non lethal’ gun in Kashmir.

During the last hearing on April 10, the Centre had told the Supreme Court it was exploring a crowd control option that is akin to rubber bullets but not as lethal as pellet guns that are being used currently as a last resort to quell violence in the Valley.

Kashmir High Court had on September 22 rejected the plea seeking a ban on use of pellet guns on the ground that the Centre had already constituted a Committee of Experts through its memorandum of July 26, 2016 for exploring alternatives to pellet guns.

The SC had on April 10 posed questions to the Bar asking it to suggest measures to deal with violent agitators who often attack security forces and damage public and private property.

“You are neither on this side (state) nor that side (agitators). You are the Bar Association of the state. If you don’t take side, you can really suggest a solution,” the Bench had on April 10 asked senior counsel Zafar Shah and Miya Abdul Qayum, who represented the petitioner association.

“We are at a very crucial juncture of history. The country’s bar has always played a crucial role in times of crises,” the Bench reminded the senior advocates.

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