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PAC personnel indulge in celebratory firing on Janmashtami, video goes viral, probe ordered

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Bhonpu Ram Khabari, Rudrapur : A video showing personnel of the 31st Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) indulged in celebratory firing in the city has gone viral on various social media platforms. The video is allegedly shot on the intervening night of August 30 and 31, on the occasion of Janmashtami. Several cops can be seen in the 112 seconds’ video firing with their service rifles. The Commandant of the 31st PAC, Daddan Pal Singh, said that this is a routine custom in the PAC to fire on Janmashtami. Meanwhile, Inspector General (IG) PAC, Amit Sinha has ordered a probe in the incident.

Janmashtami is celebrated in the PAC premises with fervour and joy every year. Not only the kin of the cops but the locals from the city reach out to witness the event. On August 30 around midnight, four cops in uniform started firing from their self-loading service rifles. After one round, the rifles malfunctioned and two others in civil dress approached the scene only to check the rifles and firing started again. The incident was recorded by a viewer on his mobile phone and subsequently went viral on social media platforms. The 112 seconds video shows that as many as six rounds were fired by the PAC cops. Talking to TOI about the incident, Daddan Pal Singh, Commandant of the 31st PAC, said that this is a long-standing practice in the PAC to fire on Janmashtami and Republic Day. “The cops were using blank cartridges to avoid any untoward incident and the custom has been followed for several years”.

However, when asked about the court’s and the Central government’s guidelines regarding celebratory firing, Singh said that celebratory firing is done within the rules and the cops had used blank cartridges for the same. He further said that it is written in the Arms Act that the license holder can use the weapon for personal security and training purposes. Justifying the act, he said, “You must have seen firing by the cops during the Republic Day celebration. Similarly, we are allowed to fire on Janmashtami but with blank cartridges only”. Nonetheless, he failed to produce any court or government order to back his statement.

Notably, in December 2019, the Central government made an amendment to The Arms Bill, making celebratory firing an offence. The bill was passed in the Lok Sabha and defines celebratory firing as “use of firearms in public gatherings, religious places, marriages or other functions to fire ammunition.” An offender of the same could face imprisonment of upto two years, fine of Rs One lakh or both. Prior to this several state governments like Delhi and Uttar Pradesh had already banned celebratory firing.

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