Facing criticism for pellet guns, CRPF looks at safer alternatives
After pellets usage in Kashmir faced heavy criticism for causing grievous injuries, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) deployed for counter-insurgency and law and order operations in J&K has sent 21,000 rounds of less lethal, newly developed plastic bullets. These bullets are developed by the Defence Research and Development Organization and can be fit in the AK series of assault rifles. Know more!
Pellet guns, a non-lethal crowd control method that police uses, can injure and cause pain. Loaded with lead, they are effective over short ranges of 500 yards. But, if fired from a close range, they penetrate skin's soft tissues, especially sensitive parts like the eye.
Amnesty International had released a report "Losing Sight in Kashmir: The Impact of Pellet-Firing Shotguns" in September that highlighted the cases of 88 people whose eyesight got damaged because of metal pellets fired from pump-action shotguns used between 2014 and 2017. It also specified that pellet victims faced physical, mental and psychological trauma. Further, the report recommended to stop the usage of pellet guns immediately.
After facing criticism, paramilitary forces will now reportedly use non-lethal alternatives like long range acoustic devices (LRADs) that frighten people with high-pitched sounds, sticky foam that immobilize people, shock batons, Assam's "bhut jolokia" chilli pepper and plastic bullets to control protestors. PAVA shells made from a compound found in natural chilli that can cause severe irritation to the eye will also be used.
As per Srinagar's Shri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) hospital records, since July'16, 1209 people with pellet injuries have been treated of which 77 had severely damaged both eyes and 21 had no sight in one eye. Further, about 16 people had died and about 7,000 got injured. Thus, though this is a grim picture, growing unrest and instability in the valley renders the future uncertain.