The use of pellet guns has been heavily criticised for it has caused injuries, and also death in a few cases, in the ongoing protests in the Kashmir Valley.

13 million pellets 8650 tear-smoke shells 2671 plastic pellets used by CRPF in a month JK HC toldA protest in Srinagar demanding an end to the use of pellet guns; PTI Photo by S Irfan
news Kashmir protests Friday, August 19, 2016 - 12:22

1.3 million pellets were used in 32 days by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) to control protests in the state, the paramilitary force told the Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Thursday, reported The Hindu

The CRPF was responding to a public interest litigation which sought a ban on the use of pellet guns.  

Between July 8 and August 11, it used 3,000 pellet cartridges, 8,650 tear-smoke shells, 2,671 plastic pellets along with 14 types of “less lethal and non-lethal” munitions like oleoresin grenades, pepper balls and stun grenades, the report states.

The Hindu report adds that the CRPF also informed the HC that "pellet guns were introduced in 2010 as an accepted weapon of riot control. In case this (pellet shotgun) is withdrawn, the CRPF would have no recourse in extreme situations but to open fire with rifles, which may cause more fatalities."

In its affidavit, the force said that "it was difficult to follow the standard operating procedure (SOP) given the nature of the protests". And while it agreed that pellet guns should be aimed below the waist, it also said that "the situation prevailing on the streets during the ongoing law and order incident is dynamic and mobile".

Protests in Srinagar; PTI Photo by S Irfan

The use of pellet guns has been heavily criticised for it has caused injuries, especially to the eyes of hundreds of protesters, and also death in a few cases, in the ongoing protests in the Kashmir Valley.

A pellet gun sprays small iron ball bearings towards a target with high velocity. These bearing can pierce a human body at dozens of spots simultaneously. It can prove more dangerous if fired from a close range.

Director General of Central Reserve Police Force, K Durga Prasad,  in July said that there was no weapon called "non-lethal" and the pellet guns, often used for crowd control in Kashmir Valley, was the "least-lethal" option available with the force.

"We feel very sorry for them as youngsters have to bear injuries due to the firing of pellet guns. We ourselves are trying to use it in bare minimum so that there are less injuries. But we use them under the extreme situation when crowd control fails by other means," he said. 

Global rights group Amnesty International has also asked the J&K government to stop the use of pellet guns stating that "they (pellet guns) cannot ensure well-targeted shots and risk causing serious injury, including to bystanders or other protesters not engaging in violence. These risks are almost impossible to control."

Following a public furore over severe eye injuries from pellet guns to scores of protesters in the Kashmir Valley, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh last month approved the formation of an expert committee to explore non-lethal alternatives to these guns.

Police detain members of Awami Itihaad Party led by MLA Sheikh Abdul Rashid during a protest against civilian killings, in Srinagar; PTI Photo by S Irfan 

A study by doctors of Srinagar's SKIMS Medical College published in the Chinese Journal of Traumatology states that rubber bullets and pellet guns should be reclassified as lethal weapons as they cause significant damage to all the tissues of the limbs including the bones.

Rubber bullets are blunt-nosed with a muzzle velocity of around 70m/s and a kinetic energy of nearly 400J.

A study states that the degree of a wound would depend on the conditions under which the rubber bullets are fired.

According to the study, shorter firing distances may increase both the mortality and morbidity and hence there is a need to reclassify it as lethal.

(With agency inputs) 

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