The Centre told the Lok Sabha on Tuesday that pump action guns may still be used in Kashmir if the alternatives are not effective. Junior home minister Hansraj Gangaram Ahir said the government had set up a panel to find options that can substitute the guns, which have caused serious injuries to civilians during protests in the Valley. He said the panel has submitted a report recommending the use of pump action guns in “extreme” situations and that the targets be hit only below the waist, reported The Telegraph.

“Accordingly, the government has decided that the security forces will resort to various measures such as using PAVA [chilli grenades], stun grenades and tear-smoke shells to disperse rioters,” the Union minister said. “However, if these measures prove ineffective in dispersing rioters, the use of pellet guns may be resorted to.” He was answering a question raised by All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam legislators K Ashok Kumar about the weapons.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court on Monday asked the government to explore options to substitute the pump action guns. “It’s a serious issue. It concerns the life and death of people,” said Chief Justice of India JS Khehar. There is no question of our saying what weapons to use, but a situation has arisen where we need to do something. We are a welfare state. We are of the impression there are other methods that can be adopted.”

The Indian Army had faced severe criticism for injuring hundreds of people with the “non-lethal” weapon during the protests in July last year. The Home Ministry had set up a panel in August, 2016, which had suggested pump action guns be replaced with shells containing Pelargonic Acid Vanillyl Amide. Recently, it was reported that the new version of pump action guns will have deflectors on the muzzle end so that the shrapnel from the pellets does not hit anyone above the abdomen region.