Chilli-filled ‘Pava shells’ seen as alternative to pellet guns
The use of pellet guns during protests witnessed in the Kashmir Valley caused grievous injuries and large-scale blinding.The Pava shells have a potential to disperse crowd temporarily.
An expert panel constituted to study alternatives to pellets guns is likely to suggest multiple options for crowd control, including an acoustic device used by US police and a chilli-based ammunition capable of temporarily immobilising the target.
A laser shooter that causes temporary blindness has also been discussed in several meetings of the panel, one of its members said on Thursday.
The panel was formed in the wake of widespread criticism of pellet guns, a non-lethal weapon that has left hundreds of people blinded in the current wave of violence in Kashmir.
Union home minister Rajnath Singh announced in Srinagar on Thursday that the expert panel will submit its report in two-three days and the government will propose an alternative to pellet guns, blamed for fanning public anger against security forces. Political parties including the Congress have also demanded a ban on the gun.
“The idea is to suggest options which do not penetrate human bodies,” the panel member said on the condition of anonymity.
“Different situations demand different methods to control crowd. Several technologies exist in India as well as abroad which can be used to replace pellet guns but for that proper training of personnel is must.”
The member identified the chilli–based ammunition as the highly potent PAVA, short for Pelargonic Acid Vanillyl Amide, an organic compound found in natural chilli pepper.
The long-range acoustic device was in the spotlight in 2014 when it was used by US law enforcement agencies in Ferguson to control violent protesters following the killing of a Black youth by police.
The CRPF has been using PAVA balls in the Valley for the last couple of days.
A security officer deployed in Srinagar said PAVA was found to be more pungent and more irritating than tear gas.
“We got mixed results. In confined areas it worked better but in open areas, spraying PAVA proved futile in front of a determined crowd,” said a security officer.
The officer, however, said PAVA shells cannot be the only substitute to pellet guns. “We need more gradual steps between firing PAVA shells to firing actual bullets given the intensity of protests here.”
A PTI report said PAVA shells are undergoing tests at a Lucknow laboratory under the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).