No blanket ban on pellet guns in Kashmir Valley, to be used in 'rarest of rare cases'

Kashmir has witnessed unrest since killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani on July 8.

No blanket ban on pellet guns in Kashmir Valley, to be used in 'rarest of rare cases'

New Delhi: Days after Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh indicated that pellet guns are likely to be replaced soon, it was reported on Monday that they will not be completely banned but will be fired in 'rarest of rare cases'.

Pellet guns are being used by security forces for crowd control in Jammu and Kashmir.

Singh had said on August 25, during his visit to J&K that an alternative to pellet guns would be given in the coming few days.

The HM had said then, "In the coming few days, we will give an alternative to the pellet guns. These guns were earlier considered non-lethal but some incidents have taken place... We formed an expert committee a month back which was expected to give report in two months but it will be coming very soon."

Today it was reported that  senior government functionaries have arrived at the conclusion that the pellet guns will not be completely banned after extensive consultations with security forces and examining the ground realities in Kashmir Valley.

The option of firing pellet guns will remain but it will be used only in rarest of rare cases,  a top government official said, as per PTI.

The government is facing severe criticism for using the pellet guns for crowd control in Kashmir Valley as the weapon has caused large-scale injuries in the unrest following killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani on July 8.

Govt panel recommends chilli-filled grenades, stun lac shells

Meanwhile, a committee, set up to find alternatives to pellet guns in the Kashmir Valley, today suggested use of chilli-filled grenades (which is said to be less lethal and immobilises the target temporarily) and 'stun lac shells' to control mobs in addition to the debatable weapon being used now.

The seven-member expert committee, headed by Joint Secretary in the Home Ministry TVSN Prasad, submitted its report today.

The report for exploring the other possible alternatives to pellet guns as non-lethal weapons was submitted to Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi here, an official spokesperson said.

However, the spokesperson did not elaborate about the findings of the expert committee.

Sources said Pelargonic Acid Vanillyl Amide (PAVA) also called Nonivamide and other non-lethal ammunition like 'stun lac cells' and Long Range Acoustic Device (LARD) which create deafening noise to paralyse people were understood to have suggested as possible alternatives to the pellet guns.

The committee held a demonstration of the newly-developed shells at a test field earlier this week and gave the thumbs up for use by security forces for crowd control and during protests.

The 'PAVA shells' were under trial for over a year at the Indian Institute of Toxicology Research, a Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) laboratory in Lucknow.

However, LARD is likely to be used in rural areas as it could prove dangerous for old buildings in downtown Srinagar.

The expert committee also recommended Standard Operating Procedures for deployment of this new assortment of non-lethal weapons. 

(With PTI inputs)