The Central Reserve Police Force has dispatched 21,000 “less lethal” plastic bullets to Jammu and Kashmir, PTI reported on Saturday. This is to reduce the forces’ use of pump action guns, commonly known as pellet guns, which have caused hundreds of injuries in civilians.

“Tests have shown that these plastic bullets are less lethal,” PTI quoted CRPF Director General RR Bhatnagar as saying. “This will reduce our dependence on pellet guns and other non-lethal weapons used for crowd control. As soon as a crowd or stone pelting incident is encountered, the troops just need to change the bullets and fire.”

Bhatnagar said that the CRPF will still use other “non-lethal weapons” and added that the CRPF is getting more pump action guns fitted with metal deflectors to prevent pellet injuries above the waist.

The plastic bullets were developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation and manufactured at the Ordnance factory in Pune.

The government had come under a lot of criticism after severe injuries were reported in Kashmiri civilians because of the pump action guns. The guns had caused blindness in some. The government had also tried to replace the guns with chilli-based Pava shells.