After declaring two months ago (click HERE) that pellet guns’ sale and efficacy as anti-riots weapon cannot be disclosed in public interest, a top Government of India outfit has stated that it does not have “any studies regarding the efficacy of anti-riot weapons such as pellet guns.”
The reply comes in the wake of a Right to Information (RTI) plea by senior activist, Venkatesh Nayak, who is with the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), a Delhi-based NGO. The Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), which operates under the Ministry of Defence, Government of India, is engaged in research, development, production, testing, marketing and logistics used in air, land and sea.
The reply further says that the OFB does not manufacture “anti-riot weapons such as pellet guns but only the ammunition used with it.” Interestingly, instead of providing the information sought under RTI, the OFB just “printed out the webpages from the OFB's website regarding the specifications of the pellet cartridges and sent them to me after stamping them with a seal saying document issued under the RTI Act", says Nayak.
Nayak wonders, in an email alert, if the Khadki Ordnance Factory (OFK), Kokata, operating under OFB, does not manufacturing the anti-riot weapon called pellet guns, where are law enforcement agencies, particularly the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in J&K, buying these pellet guns from.
He further wonders, “If as the manufacturing entity, OFK does not have any study reports regarding the efficacy and expected impact of pellets on human beings, how are they authorised to manufacture such ammunition and under whose orders?”
Nayak asks, “If there is no written record about how such ammunition will impact on the intended targets, how can any standardisation of ammunition be achieved?”
OFK is a public sector enterprise which sells arms and ammunition not only to the defence forces and law enforcement agencies but also to civilians in the form of weapons for hunting, sporting and self-defence.
Comments Nayak, “Such a body is claiming that they do not have studies which show how such anti-riot ammunition will impact on human beings. This is indeed a very strange admission.”
According to a news report, the Indian paramilitary fired up to 3,800 cartridges between July and August, each containing 450 metallic balls, totaling up to 1.7 million pellets. About 3,000 civilians have been injured due to pellet guns as of 24 August.
Meanwhile, Nayak says, a Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) Committee report on riot control methods remains a secret. The committee, was formed following reported instances of numerous youngsters being injured severely by pellet guns, resulting in extensive eye damage, many of whom were innocent bystanders.
“The seven-person committee said to have submitted its report to the Government. This report has not been officially placed in the public domain. There is an urgent need to make the report public. A similar report prepared in 2010 was made public by the Delhi Police after I filed an RTI application”, says Nayak.
“There is no reason why the 2016 report should not be made public, especially, when organisations like OFK are manufacturing ammunition for riot control without knowledge of what their impact is on the human body”, Nayak asserts.