‘Golimaar’ Minister uses cop’s rifle, spreads panic

The media was quick to take up the issue, forcing Sri-nivas Goud on the back foot.
Sports Minister V Srinivas Goud fires in the air ‘to start off’ the Freedom Rally in Mahabubnagar town on Saturday
Sports Minister V Srinivas Goud fires in the air ‘to start off’ the Freedom Rally in Mahabubnagar town on Saturday

HYDERABAD: Sports Minister V Srinivas Goud on Saturday was left trying to dodge the volley of criticism from not only the Opposition, but also from citizens and retired police officers after he opened fire in the air using an Insas rifle – a gun issued to police personnel – during a ‘Freedom Ra-lly’ in Mahabubnagar town. To compound matters, the Minister posted a video clip of him firing the rifle on his social media handles. As expected, a barrage of criticism from netizens followed. The sight of a gun being fired in the presence of thousands of children, youngsters and others who had come to participate in the rally was too much for netizens to ignore.

The media was quick to take up the issue, forcing Sri-nivas Goud on the back foot. The Minister initially defended himself saying that the gun was loaded with rubber bullets and not live rou-nds. He also said that it was the Mahabubnagar SP who gave him the gun and asked him to kick off the rally.Then came the foot-in-the-mouth moment. The Minister said that this was not the first time that he had fired such shots.

Srinivas Goud fired blank ammunition, defends SP

Being the Sports Minister as well as a member of various rifle associations, he was authorised to fire a starter gun at sports events, V Srinivas Goud claimed, perhaps forgetting that he was being criticised for opening fire in the midst of a crowd of children and adults. The Minister went on to say that he had done the same thing at a similar rally held on August 11, as part of Swatantra Bharata Vajrotsavalu.

Anguished by such irresponsible use of ammunition, politicians, retired IPS officers and ex-servicemen questioned Srinivas Goud’s sagacity in opening fire in the air during a public event. In a statement to the media, BJP national vice-president DK Aruna demanded Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao to sack Goud from the Cabinet. Wondering whether there was law and order prevailing in the state, she said that it was unfortunate to see police officers supporting his act, instead of preventing such things from happening. She also urged DGP M Mahendar Reddy to dismiss the police officer who, according to Srinivas Goud, had asked the Minister to fire the shots in the air.

“What was the need to fire in the air? Even during sports events, a very light pistol with only one chamber and one cartridge is used, that too in a safe and protected environment. It certainly appeared from the video that the minister launched ‘burst fire’ which releases 20 bullets in a burst,” a former DGP told Express, on condition of anonymity. A retired ex-serviceman and the leader of the Defence Ministry recognised ex-servicemen coordination committee, said, “If we are living in India, we need to protect the values of the Constitution. Only that way we can protect the country. How can the government allow such firing? If they keep firing like that, the country won’t exist.”

Mahabubnagar SP R Venkateswarlu however clarified saying Srinivas Goud fired ‘blank ammunition’ which were not even dummy bullets, and that such blank ammunition is used during sports events and rallies. He told Express that the SPs have a supply of such blank ammunition for ceremonial purposes, and that permission was sought from the district Collector on August 8 to use it in the rally.

The SP said that such ammunition is used during police training. Because there were a large number of participants at the rally, blank ammunition was used for the loud sound, he said. Later at the TRSLP office, the Minister took a U-turn from his earlier statement, saying that it was not a rubber bullet but blank ammunition. He said that those who couldn’t bear the success of the event were trying to defame with cheap tactics.

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The New Indian Express