NEW DELHI: After weeks of deliberation, the Union Government on Monday decided to send an all-party delegation to Jammu & Kashmir on September 4 to talk to civil society and political groups. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh will lead it.
Alongside this initiative, the government has been advised to consider alternatives to the pellet guns being used for riot-control in Kashmir, where a lockdown of 51 days ended on Monday. A committee tasked to find alternatives to pellet guns reported several options to Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi on Monday. These include chilli-filled grenades, 'stun lac shells' and long-range acoustic devices [LARD).
Pellet guns are, however, unlikely to be completely banned but will be fired in the "rarest of rare cases", PTI reported.
The seven-member expert committee, headed by joint secretary T V S N Prasad of the Home Ministry, was constituted after scores of protesters were blinded by pellet shot fired by security forces over the last 51 days.
Chilli-filled grenade use pelargonic acid vanillyl amide [PAVA), also called Nonivamide, to deter mobs. 'Stun lac cells' are nnon-lethal ammunition and long-range acoustic devices [LARD) create a deafening noise to paralyse rioters. However, LARD is likely to be used only in rural areas as it could prove dangerous for old buildings in downtown Srinagar. Rajnath Singh had promised to consider alternatives to the pellet guns during his two-day visit to the state on August 24-25. The Home Minister is going to be back in the Valley when he leads the all-party delegation on a two-day mission to restore peace in the state.
On Sunday, Rajnath Singh met with BJP president Amit Shah, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Minister of State in the PMO Jitendra Singh to finalise the modalities for the delegation.
The meeting discussed the names of the civil society activists and groups with whom the delegation will meet. “The government has asked different political parties to convey the names of their functionaries who will be part of the team,” a Home Ministry official said.
The decision to lead an all-party delegation to Srinagar was welcomed as a belated but positive move by the Opposition, especially the Congress. “Der aaye durust aaye (better late than never)” is how the Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad described it. Had the government sent the delegation a month ago, “precarious lives and time could have been saved”. Official sources said letters have been dispatched to all participating parties and the government was awaiting a response.