Alarmed over situations where locals have resorted to pelting stones at security personnel during sensitive anti-terror operations and obstructing them, paramilitary forces have now decided to reintroduce the use of the contentious pellet guns in the Kashmir Valley.
Speaking to reporters, CRPF Director General K Durga Prasad confirmed on Monday that the pellet guns will be making a comeback in the Valley, albeit with certain tweaks.
“The force has taken the decision to modify pellet guns, with the help of BSF, to minimise injuries,” he told reporters. Notably, the forces have concluded that the less lethal PAVA shells have been largely ineffective in scattering protesters.
Paramilitary forces had widely used pellet guns in the Valley during the protests that followed the killing of Hizbul militant Burhan Wani in July last year. Controversy arose over its usage following hundreds of injuries, including serious damages to the eye.
The pellet guns were withdrawn following a huge outcry and were replaced by the chilli-based PAVA shells.
According to CRPF officials, the modified pellet guns will have “deflectors” attached to the muzzle to prevent pellets from ascending. The CRPF has also asked a special BSF workshop to deploy a metal deflector on the muzzle so that shrapnels do not strike a person above the abdomen region.
Also, CRPF personnel in the Valley have been directed to fire pellets aiming at the feet of protesters and not the abdomen area to avoid injuries.
Prasad, who retires as DG, CRPF in two days’ time, said that though the PAVA shells do good in certain conditions, “we have made it clear that the CRPF man on the ground will use whatever the situation demands.”
According to the CRPF, as many as 2,580 of its personnel were injured, 122 of them grievously, in attacks that followed Wani’s killing. There were 142 incidents of stone-pelting on its camps and 43 instances of attacks with petrol, acid and kerosene bombs.
Army chief Gen. Bipin Rawat had said earlier this month that any obstruction to anti-terror operations will be dealt with severely. He had also said that those waiving ISIS and Pakistani flags would also be treated as anti-nationals.