The Centre on Monday informed a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court that it used pump action guns on protestors in Jammu and Kashmir as a last resort and was now developing new rubber-based shots to deal with stone-pelters in the valley, ANI reported today.

The Supreme Court was hearing the Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association’s plea against the use of pump action guns in the state. In an earlier hearing on March 26, it had given the Centre two weeks’ time to present alternatives to the use of pump action guns, popularly called pellet guns, on agitating mobs in Jammu and Kashmir.

The apex court had then expressed concern over the injuries suffered by hundreds, several of them minors, during the protests in Kashmir last year following the encounter that killed Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani. “We are of the impression that there are other methods that can be adopted [to quell protests],” the bench headed by Chief Justice JS Khehar had told the Centre.

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi informed the Supreme Court that pellet guns were used only when the protestors moved too close to the security forces. He added that power shell, tear gas, laser dazzler and acoustic methods had primarily been ineffective.

The Indian Army has faced severe criticism for injuring hundreds of people with the “non-lethal” pump action gun 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.

In September last year, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court had rejected the ban on pump action guns for crowd control in the state. “What kind of force has to be used at the relevant point of time, or in a given situation/place, has to be decided by persons in charge of the place [of attack],” the high court had said.