While the use of pellet guns by security personnel to quell protesters was restricted to the Kashmir Valley only, it was Maharashtra farmers who were at the receiving end of pellet gunfire on Thursday. They were protesting against the government, claiming that the Ministry of Defence was forcibly acquiring their land on the outskirts of Mumbai for an airport.
“Some villagers attacked a police team and the DCP, who then used pellet guns on them, 4 villagers injured, being treated,” Hindustan Times reported, quoting Police Commissioner of Thane.
The clashes took places between police and protesting farmers on a national highway in Maharashtra near Thane in which at least 26 people including 12 policemen, 12 demonstrators and two mediapersons sustained injuries. At least four police vehicles were also set ablaze by the protesting farmers.
Today, farmers from 17 villages were holding protests at 10 spots. The biggest of them was on the Thane-Badlapur highway, where they had blocked traffic. The clashes began when the police tried to disperse the mob, NDTV reported.
“The farmers and their families had blocked several other roads in the area,” the report stated, adding that farmers from 17 villages were holding protests at 10 spots. “The Defence Ministry said the Navy was building the peripheral boundary wall to "safeguard defence land from further encroachment,” the report said.
According to locals, resentment was brewing among locals after the government’s proposed move to turn an abandoned World War II airbase into a defence airport at Nevali, about 45 km northeast of Mumbai.
The protest took an ugly turn when clashes erupted between police and farmers who were opposed to the government plan.
Incidentally, Maharashtra government had earlier announced a total loan wavier for 3.1 million marginal farmers following protests by the farmers.
The use of pellet guns for mob dispersal by security forces was restricted to Kashmir valley. The pellets as ammunition—generally used in hunting animals—were introduced in Jammu and Kashmir following public outcry over excesses in 2010 summer unrest by the security forces.
Earlier last month, the Supreme Court directed the Centre to consider effective means other than use of pellet guns to quell stone pelting mobs in Jammu and Kashmir. A bench headed by Chief Justice JS Khehar asked Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi to file a detailed reply on what alternate effective steps could be taken to deal with agitating mobs.
Meanwhile, a civilian was killed during clashes between protesters and security personal in Kakapora area of Pulwama district in Kashmir on Thursday. The deceased, identified as Touseef Ahmad Wani, had suffered multiple pellet injuries.
Vivashwan Singh tweeted that Kashmir was no longer special and isolated when it came to pellet gun use.