Patna: Bihar is the latest convert to pepper balls and rubber bullets to minimalise casualties in police firing to control and disperse violent mobs. It's part of the modernisation process of the force and in line with the practice across the developed world.
"We have already started the process to purchase pepper guns and pellet guns for firing pepper bullets and rubber bullets to control and disperse mobs," Bihar Police chief P.K. Thakur told IANS.
Thakur said that state police had sent a proposal to the union home ministry for purchase of over 150 sets of pepper and pellet guns for use by the anti-riot rapid action force raised by the state police to deal with serious law and order situations, including riots and violent incidents.
According to another police officer, pepper guns would fire a bunch of tiny balls made of white pepper powder that would explode and disperse on impact, producing a burning sensation in the eyes of the rioters. It will also make them cough uncontrollably for a few minutes.
Pepper bullets can be fired up to a distance of 150 to 200 yards.Unlike tear gas cans, rioters cannot throw them back.
The pellet guns would fire small pellets that would impact the subcutaneous tissues of a person and produce a painful biting effect.
"Our target is to reduce the risk of casualties," a police officer said.
Bihar was the first state in the country that raised its own anti-riot force on the lines of the CRPF's Rapid Action Force to check and control communal disturbances.
The Bihar government has been criticized by the opposition over repeated police firing to control violent mobs.
Earlier this month, at least six people were injured when police opened fire to disperse a mob of agitating flood victims in Patna district. Police officers justified this by saying it was necessary to control an angry mob protesting against the unfair distribution of relief at Ghoshwari block near Barh in Patna.
In July, two people were killed in Aurangabad and two in Rohtas district in police firing to control protesting villagers.
"Police have been targeted by opposition as well as human rights activists for resorting to firing to control mobs, instead of using rubber bullets," a senior police officer said.