As the demands for banning pellet guns are increasing, the police authorities in Jammu and Kashmir are pushing for FN Herstal 303 riot guns for crowd control.
The pellet guns caused hundreds of eye injuries and several deaths since July 8 when mass protests erupted in the Kashmir Valley after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander, Burhan Muzaffer Wani.
Responding to a PIL filed by Kashmir Bar Association, which sought a ban on pellet guns, the CRPF told the Jammu and Kashmir High Court on August 17 that 3765 cartridges of 9 number have been fired from the pump action guns since the July 8.
As each cartridge contains 450 metallic balls, the CRPF have used 1.3 million pellets on protesters till August 11.
FN HERSTAL BEST BET? J-K POLICE THINK SO
Police sources said a presentation about the FN Herstal 303 was given to the officials of the Union Home Ministry in New Delhi with Jammu and Kashmir describing it as their best option to deal with the protesters in the Valley.
Sources said the state police argues that the Herstal, designed to incapacitate the suspects, was less lethal with optional optical sight and could reach the protesters from 50 meters distance and more.
PAVA SHELLS TO REPLACE PAVA GRENADES
They said the police were already using chilli-filled PAVA grenades as crowd control measure in Kashmir. But since the PAVA grenade is effective only when thrown from less than 20 meters, it is not a viable option.
“Any crowd control measure becomes successful if you could stop protesters from a distance. That is why PAVA grenades will be now replaced with PAVA shells as they could be fired like gas gun from a distance,” said a source.
According to the health department, till August 23, 486 persons sustained pellet injuries in their eyes in various districts across Kashmir.
Of these 486, 195 were referred to SMHS hospital in Srinagar and others were managed at district hospitals and were discharged after initial treatment.
NO BAN ON SHOTGUNS ANYTIME SOON
Since several injured persons having pellet wounds in their eyes were directly rushed to the SMHS hospital from various districts, the hospital has received 527 such injured. Of 527, 29 have pellets in their both eyes, 498 have pellet wounds in one eye. The injured have undergone multiple surgeries.
Police sources said there was no ban likely on the shotguns at least in the coming months. This is because the law enforcing agencies see it as the most potent weapon against the protesters.
In reply to the PIL by Kashmir Bar Association, the CRPF told the court that the pellet guns, introduced in 2010, are “riot control” weapons.
“In case this is withdrawn from the options available with the CRPF, CRPF personnel would have no recourse in extreme situations, but to open fire with rifles which may cause more fatalities,” the CRPF affidavit says.
1.3 million pellets used on protesters from July 8 till August 11 : CRPF