Kashmir unrest: Plastic bullets to be used for crowd control in valley

A student throwing stones on police amid heavy tear smoke during a clash with police outside SP college in the vicinity of Lal Chowk in Srinagar
Non-penetrative plastic bullets are likely to be used in Jammu and Kashmir for crowd control or stone-pelting mobs to reduce collateral damage during counter-insurgency operations.

However, the pellet guns will continue to be used as the last resort in the non-lethal category.

Thousands of plastic bullets were produced and sent to the Kashmir Valley for use by the law enforcement agencies, official sources said.

The plastic bullets are non-penetrative and can be fired from INSAS rifles, the sources said.

Security forces often face violent protests and stone pelting mobs, especially during stiff resistance from the locals, when they are engaged in gunfight with militants, who at times manage to escape with the help of the crowd.

So far, security forces are using PAVA shells and pellet guns, the last option in the non-lethal category before the use of assault rifles, to control the mobs.

PAVA (Pelargonic Acid Vanillyl Amide) is a chilli-based ammunition, which is less lethal and immobilises the target temporarily.

Other less-lethal weapons used include dye marker grenade with irritant which causes sensory trouble to the target once fired. It leaves a dye mark on the troublemakers for easy identification.

An new entrant to the arsenal of non-lethal weapons is a grenade packed with scientifically prepared spicy jelly, which on exploding, causes irritation in the eyes.

Oloeoresin, a semi-solid extract in a solution, mixed with spicy gel, could be put in the grenade casings to tackle rioting mobs, sources said.

Calling the damage caused by pellet guns an issue of "life and death", the Supreme Court had last month told the government to come up with suggestions regarding effective alternatives.

Three civilians were killed last month during protests in Chadoora in Kashmir when a mob made attempts to obstruct an ongoing anti-militancy operation in the area.

Army chief General Bipin Rawat had earlier warned of tough action against protesters who hurled stones at security personnel engaged in anti-militancy operations or targeted their families.

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