Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday said the Centre will try to find an alternative to pellet guns, reported ANI. On a two-day tour to the Valley, Singh said he has met around 300 people since Wednesday and the general opinion was that they all want peace to be restored in the region.

Singh’s comment about the use of pellet guns gains significance after official data revealed that around 51% of civilians injured in the ongoing violence were hit by pellets, reported The Hindu. Around 3,000 civilians have been injured by pellets in south Kashmir alone, while Baramulla and Kupwara districts in north Kashmir saw around 1,136 pellet injuries in the last 46 days. Of all these, people from Anantnag district, with 508 reported cases of pellet injuries, are worst affected.

During the joint news conference, Singh and Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said the future of India depends on that of the Valley. The home minister said, “Youth in Kashmir should have pens, books and computers in their hands, not stones.” Mufti also agreed with Singh when she said that 95% of Kashmiris do not want violence. She said the government needs to reach out to them and added, “Our youths are being used by some elements as shields to attack army camps. They want our children to suffer.”

Singh once again urged security forces in the state to exercise maximum restraint while dealing with protesters, adding that more than 4,500 security personnel have been injured in the ongoing violence that erupted in the Valley after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani on July 8. He also asked civilians to remember the role these security personnel played during the floods in 2014.