The Central Reserve Police Force said on Thursday that they do not have an alternative to pump-action guns, or "pellet guns", even as Home Affairs Minister Rajnath Singh said the Centre will look into their use in the ongoing Kashmir protests. CRPF Director General K Durga Prasad said, "We have asked our jawans to aim low so that when fired, it only hits the lower part of the body. We have got to know that many people have lost their vision due to pellet injuries, and we are looking into these reports,", according to The Hindu.
Stone-pelting by mobs has injured 1,022 CRPF jawans during the unrest in the state, Prasad added. The CRPF has 600 such pellet guns. A majority of them are used in the Valley, where it was introduced after 110 people died in an agitation in August 2010. "Pellet guns are the last resort when all other options like gas shells and gas grenades fail," an official said.
On Thursday, during the ongoing Monsoon Session of Parliament, Singh said the Centre will form and expert panel to look into the use of pellet guns. "The government has directed security forces to exercise maximum restrain while dealing with protesters in Kashmir," Singh said, adding that Pakistan sponsored terrorists in India and was trying to "destabilise" the country, according to The Indian Express.
The use of pellet guns has drawn criticism from several quarters. Last week, Minister of Health and Family Welfare JP Nadda sent a team of three eye specialists from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi, to help treat pellet injuries in those injured during the protests in Kashmir. More than 40 people have died so far in the agitations, which took place after Hizbul Mujahideen leader Burhan Wani was killed by security forces.