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Kashmir unrest: Pellets to remain a part of force’s arsenal

india Updated: Aug 30, 2016 07:02 IST
Rajesh Ahuja
Rajesh Ahuja
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

A security force personnel holds a pellet gun as he patrols in Srinagar. (AFP Photo)

Pellet guns will remain in use in Kashmir but security forces have been asked to use the controversial crowd-control weapon only in the “rarest of rare cases”, a home ministry official said on Monday.

The extensive of use of pellet guns – a non-lethal weapon that fires lead pieces – have fuelled anger in the Valley with hundreds of people, including children as young as four-year-old, suffering eye injuries in the current phase of violence.

The government also announced that on September 4, Union home minister Rajnath Singh will lead an all-party delegation to Kashmir, where at least 70 people have been killed in clashes between stone-pelting protesters and security forces since the killing of militant commander Burhan Wani on July 8.

Read| Kashmir unrest: Mehbooba visits AIIMS to see girl blinded in pellet firing

An expert panel constituted by Singh to suggest alternatives to pellet guns has submitted its report.

The official, however, did not elaborate what would be regarded as “rarest of rare” cases. The CRPF had earlier said that pellet guns are needed when there is a threat to the lives of security personnel.

According to sources, one of the key recommendations of the expert panel is to replace tear smoke with a more pungent chemical based on an organic compound found in natural chilli pepper.

Read| In Kashmir, pellet gun victims are as young as 4 years

In Kashmir, curfew was lifted from most parts of the Valley after 51 days as the situation showed signs of returning to normal.

An official said that though the all-party visit is for two days “it can be extended till September 6”. The official said there was no bar on the team members from meeting separatist leaders, one of the key demands by chief minister Mehbooba Mufti.

Read| Leaders, separatists talk of ‘haste, ambiguity’ in govt’s Kashmir action plan