Despite Calls For Withdrawal,CRPF says, ‘Can’t Control Crowd Without Pellets’

SRINAGAR: Despite calls for withdrawal of fatal pellets guns from Valley, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) on Monday upped ante and “emphasized its use on protestors”.

In a brief chat with the Kashmir Observer at his posh office overlooking famous Dal Lake at Nishat, Inspector General of CRPF Kashmir range, Ravideep Singh Sahi, said, “we can’t control ‘mobs’ without the help of pellet guns which we use rarely.”

He, however, claimed that “there was no demand of more pellet guns from the force before the government of India”. It may be noted that Union Home Ministry recently authorized 4,949 pellet guns for CRPF posted in valley drawing sharp reaction from both pro-India political parties and pro-freedom camp.

“Pellet guns are necessary to control the crowd,” Sahi told KO, “when hundreds of people attack our men and camps, in order to avoid maximum causality, we have no alternative but to fire pellets as we can’t fire bullets directly on them.”

“There was no demand of more pellet guns from CRPF,” he claimed adding, “the central government might send them keeping in view of the situation. We have enough guns here in valley to control crowd.”

Ravideep while regretting the loss of eyesight during the summer uprising of 2016 said, “… we try to exercise maximum restrain during the clashes.”

“It is very difficult to follow SOP on ground when the situation remains hostile,” he added.

According to the SOP, the pellet gun should be aimed below the waist of a protestor to make pellets less lethal. However, the number of injuries caused by pellets in Kashmir suggests that they were aimed above the waist height of victims last year.

While replying on this situation, the CRPF IG said, “our forces try to fire pellets below the waist but unfortunately youth bend to pick up stones to thrown them as a result they get pellets above the waist.”

More so, the IG said that they are planning to “modify pellets guns making them less lethal”.

“The modified version of pellet guns will have a ‘deflector’, an attachment on the muzzle end, so that the shot does not go up the waist height of a protester.” he informed.

At least 15 civilians were killed and over 600 others blinded partially or completely during the summer uprising of 2016 due to the ‘indiscriminate’ use of pellets by forces. The people hit by pellets in their eyes have to undergo multiple surgeries to correct their vision.

After facing heat over the use of pellets in Valley, the union government had earlier provided PAVA grenades to CRPF as a replacement for pellet guns.

However, security sources said, “the CRPF submitted a counter report to (union) Home Ministry claiming that PAVA or Chilli Grenade was proving ‘less effective’ on ground while dealing with protesters.” “It was subsequently decided (by Union Home Ministry) to modify pellet guns with the instruction that they should be fired at the feet or legs of the protesters.”

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