CRPF for modified pellet guns targeting lower body after J-K crackdown criticism | india-news | Hindustan Times
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CRPF for modified pellet guns targeting lower body after J-K crackdown criticism

The CRPF will deploy a modified version of pellet guns after facing heat over the use of the weapon that caused severe eye injuries to protesters in Jammu and Kashmir.

india Updated: Feb 27, 2017 23:46 IST
Rajesh Ahuja
A trooper holds a pellet gun as he patrols in Srinagar on August 29, 2016.
A trooper holds a pellet gun as he patrols in Srinagar on August 29, 2016. (AFP)

The CRPF will deploy a modified version of pellet guns after facing heat over the use of the weapon that caused severe eye injuries to protesters in Jammu and Kashmir.

The new design will ensure gunshots are directed at the lower body, saving the face and eyes of stone-pelting protesters in the strife-torn state, officials said on Monday.

“We have attached a deflector made of aluminium sheet on the barrel of the gun that ensures that its discharge doesn’t go upward. By using the deflector, there is only a 2% chance that the shot fired may hit above the point of aim as compared to the rate of 40% earlier. The CRPF has asked a special BSF workshop to modify the guns. Besides, the force is already under strict instructions to aim (at) only the feet of protesters,” a CRPF official said on condition of anonymity.

Pellet guns fire cartridges consisting of hundreds of small metal balls but their extensive use to quell unrest in the Valley after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani on July 8 last year led to hundreds of cases of eye and facial injuries, often causing partial or full loss of vision. The CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) and state police faced severe criticism and there were calls to ban the weapon.

The government explored alternatives such as shells made of PAVA (pelargonic acid vanillyl amide), an organic compound found in natural chilli pepper. But these shells were only partially effective, and pellets guns continued to be used in the Valley, albeit as the last option.

“We have attached a deflector made of aluminium sheet on the barrel of the gun that ensures that its discharge doesn’t go upward. By using the deflector, there is only a 2% chance that the shot fired may hit above the point of aim as compared to the rate of 40% earlier.”

CRPF director-general K Durga Prasad, who will retire on Tuesday, said the modified guns were being tested in the Valley, but clarified, “PAVA shells have a long shelf life and they are good in certain situations... But we have made it clear that the CRPF man on the ground will use whatever the situation demands.”

CRPF’s Srinagar-based IG Ravideep Sahi said the force had nearly 800 pellet guns and deflectors would be installed by the end of March or early April. “We have tested the deflector and it was found satisfactory,” Sahi said.