The Centre is considering “reconfiguring” ‘PAVA shells’ which were recently introduced in Kashmir for crowd control as an alternative to pellet guns, as these “failed to be of effective use” because of a number of anomalies.
Officials said the security forces in Jammu and Kashmir, particularly the CRPF, have provided an on-ground assessment stating the ‘chilli-based’ shells were not able to fully deter the protesting crowds. They said the self-melting canisters of the shells were taking time as a result of which the crowds were able to throw them back at the forces in quick time.
The effectiveness of the shells’ chilli fumes after exploding also need to be enhanced, they said.
The officials said the Border Security Force’s Tear Smoke Unit (TSU) based in Gwalior, has been asked to fix these anomalies and send the fresh lot after reconfiguring the shells.
An expert panel was constituted by the Union Home Ministry to find an alternative to pellet guns for crowd control following an uproar in Kashmir after its usage led to fatalities.
The panel had recently zeroed in on ‘PAVA shells’ that were considered less lethal and acted to immobilise the target temporarily.
The name ‘PAVA’ stands for Pelargonic Acid Vanillyl Amide, also called Nonivamide, and is an organic compound found characteristically in natural chilli pepper.
On the Scoville scale (the degree to measure the power of chilli), PAVA is categorised as “above peak” meaning it will severely irritate and paralyse humans, but remain temporary in nature. It is also used as a food additive to add pungency, flavouring and spicy effect to eatables.
The first lot of these shells was sent to Kashmir recently.