In occupied Kashmir the paramilitary CRPF is planning to procure 4000 pellet guns this year so that its men are adequately equipped with the ‘low-intensity ammunition’ to deal with demonstrations during counter-insurgency operations.
“Currently, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) has 640 pump action guns, widely known as pellet guns, but in the coming months more than 4,000 will be procured,” the reports said.
“Earlier, pump action guns were available with only those units facing civilian protests and demonstrations like those in downtown Srinagar,’’ the DNA quoted one of the CRPF commanders as having said. “Now these protests have spread across Kashmir to even villages in south and north Kashmir. It has become necessary that every company has adequate non-lethal weapons. Now, these guns will form part of every company,’’ the commander of the paramilitary force added.
“Around nine pump action guns would be available with every company (around 120 personnel). More than six lakh matching cartridges, commonly referred to as pellet-shots, have also been authorized, up from 1.25 lakh last year,” reports add.
“CRPF had made the move for additional pump action guns and pellet shots in April last year, nearly two months before protests in Kashmir broke out. There were a number of instances when police stations and security posts and bunkers were attacked or set on fire by the protesters last year. We did not have adequate munitions to even protect ourselves and had to procure non-lethal weapons from the units which had. In such a situation, tear-gas shells or lathi-charge is not a solid defence,’’ said a CRPF officer, explaining the need for additional pellet guns.
Last summer, more than 1000 civilians, including schoolchildren, were blinded after being hit by pellet shots in the eyes and above waist-level, in the mass protests triggered following the killing of a local Hizbul Mujaheedin commander Burhan Wani.
Another 8,000 were grievously injured with multiple pellets lodged in their vital body parts. This time round, metal deflectors would be used so that pellet shots are not dispersed above waist level. —GK