The Central Reserve Police Force, at the forefront of maintaining law and order situation in Jammu and Kashmir, has said that it would continue to use pellet guns ‘carefully’ in extreme situations in the valley.
The security agency, however, expressed regret for the eye injuries caused as a result of using pellet guns.
According to CRPF DG K Durga Prasad, the pellet guns are the least lethal available with them and jawans have to use the pellet guns looking at the magnitude of ‘stone pelting’ in J&K.
He said the pellet guns are used under the extreme situation when crowd control fails by other means.
The Indian Army has also backed the CRPF saying the guns were the ‘least lethal’ option of controlling the mob.
“There is a requirement of non-lethal weaponry and pellet guns are classified as part of the non-lethal weaponry. It’s still a better form than using fire arms or weapons. The home ministry is looking at some better and more modern non-lethal weaponry,” Lieutenant General D S Hooda (Northern Command Chief) said.
Prasad also informed that during the recent spate of violence in Kashmir, which spiralled after Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani was gunned down in an encounter on July 8, CRPF personnel fired 2223 times from the pellet guns.
He also said that before firing pellet guns, the CRPF fired 892 tear smoke grenades, 1048 rubber bullets, 103 multi button shells, 1614 plastic pellets and 4821 smoke shells to disperse the stone-pelters.
It should be noted that in just two weeks, security personnel faced more than 600 attacks in the Valley; attacks on police stations, police posts, camps and bunkers. Approximately 70 arms were looted from a police station.
Earlier, home minister Rajnath Singh asked the security forces to refrain from using pellet guns against protesters as far as possible.
The spate of violence has led to injuries to 2228 personnel of the Jammu and Kashmir Police, 1100 CRPF personnel and 2259 civilians.
The home minister has also said that a special committee has been asked to report on non-lethal weapon alternatives to pellet guns.
Pellet guns were first introduced to Jammu and Kashmir police in 2010 during Omar Abdullah government.