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Expecting large scale protests, Government asks CRPF to stock up on non-lethal munitions: Kashmir

Sabrangindia 18 Oct 2019

The CRPF had earlier faced criticism for using pellets as a non-lethal alternative to bullets during protests in the Valley in 2016


CRPF Kashmir

In an eerie order, the Home Ministry has empowered the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) high-ranking officers to procure a large quantity of non-lethal crowd-control munitions to tackle protestors. The government issued this command anticipating long-drawn protests and demonstrations in the coming days, The Telegraph has reported.

Sources from the Union Ministry say that this decision of the government was also aimed at ‘neutralising allegations of human rights violations’. The CRPF had earlier faced criticism for using pellets as a non-lethal alternative to bullets during the 2016 protests in the valley. The pellets had blinded at least 300 people in one eye and left a dozen dead.

“Disillusionment is in the air in the Valley, so is the growing alienation. The home ministry has empowered the CRPF top brass to procure a large quantity of non-lethal munitions to tackle protesters,” a ministry official told The Telegraph.

The procurement order placed by the CRPF with the BSF’s Tear Smoke Unit (TSU) includes plastic tear-gas shells which disintegrate quicker than metal tear-gas shells, stun grenades, chili grenades that contain a chemical called PAVA (pelargonic acid vanillyl amide), rubber bullets, dye-marker grenades that help identify protestors after being hit and multi-tier tear-gas launchers which simultaneously fire multiple tear-gas shells with different trajectories.

The order is placed with BSF’s TSU unit in Tekanpur, Madhya Pradesh, which manufactures all non-lethal, crowd-control ammunition for security forces except for pellets. A CRPF official admitted that though they frequently procured non-lethal munitions from the TSU, the current bulk order was of a higher quantity than any previous orders.

In 2018, the CRPF had procured 21,000 rounds of newly developed ‘less-lethal’ plastic bullets developed by the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) to tackle street protests and counter stone pelters in Kashmir.

The efficacy of these crowd-control measures being ‘less-lethal’ or ‘non-lethal’ is completely untrue. In a conversation with The Wire in January this year, a DRDO scientist, Dr. Prince Sharma, said, ““If a plastic bullet hits the face or any vital organ, it is very likely to prove fatal.”

Even PAVA shells, which are seen as the diluted form of pepper spray have come under flak from human rights activists because, as claimed, their effect may not always be short-term as expected. They can not only cause severe damage to the eyes, skin and lungs, but can even kill through respiratory arrests or a traumatic brain injury caused by flying canisters.

Stun grenades which create blinding flares of light and a loud sound are known to rupture eardrums and other delicate membranes in the lungs. Not only this, the shrapnel from such grenades can also be lethal.

While it is obvious that the government is trying to save face after the vehement protest by human rights activists against the use of pellet guns, it must be noted that any ‘non-lethal’ weapon does not guarantee to be so.

Instead of investing in a heavy defense, the government must, first and foremost recognize the right to protest as a fundamental right under the freedom of expression. It must train security personnel to follow strict protocol in terms of crowd management keeping the use of weapons as a last resort.

Related:
New Report Cites 432 Torture Cases In Kashmir From 1990-2017, 70% Victims Civilians
‘Non-Lethal’ Crowd-Control Methods Have Killed 24, Blinded 139 In Kashmir
Pellet guns return to Kashmir, baby girl shot in the eyes
 
 

Expecting large scale protests, Government asks CRPF to stock up on non-lethal munitions: Kashmir

The CRPF had earlier faced criticism for using pellets as a non-lethal alternative to bullets during protests in the Valley in 2016


CRPF Kashmir

In an eerie order, the Home Ministry has empowered the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) high-ranking officers to procure a large quantity of non-lethal crowd-control munitions to tackle protestors. The government issued this command anticipating long-drawn protests and demonstrations in the coming days, The Telegraph has reported.

Sources from the Union Ministry say that this decision of the government was also aimed at ‘neutralising allegations of human rights violations’. The CRPF had earlier faced criticism for using pellets as a non-lethal alternative to bullets during the 2016 protests in the valley. The pellets had blinded at least 300 people in one eye and left a dozen dead.

“Disillusionment is in the air in the Valley, so is the growing alienation. The home ministry has empowered the CRPF top brass to procure a large quantity of non-lethal munitions to tackle protesters,” a ministry official told The Telegraph.

The procurement order placed by the CRPF with the BSF’s Tear Smoke Unit (TSU) includes plastic tear-gas shells which disintegrate quicker than metal tear-gas shells, stun grenades, chili grenades that contain a chemical called PAVA (pelargonic acid vanillyl amide), rubber bullets, dye-marker grenades that help identify protestors after being hit and multi-tier tear-gas launchers which simultaneously fire multiple tear-gas shells with different trajectories.

The order is placed with BSF’s TSU unit in Tekanpur, Madhya Pradesh, which manufactures all non-lethal, crowd-control ammunition for security forces except for pellets. A CRPF official admitted that though they frequently procured non-lethal munitions from the TSU, the current bulk order was of a higher quantity than any previous orders.

In 2018, the CRPF had procured 21,000 rounds of newly developed ‘less-lethal’ plastic bullets developed by the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) to tackle street protests and counter stone pelters in Kashmir.

The efficacy of these crowd-control measures being ‘less-lethal’ or ‘non-lethal’ is completely untrue. In a conversation with The Wire in January this year, a DRDO scientist, Dr. Prince Sharma, said, ““If a plastic bullet hits the face or any vital organ, it is very likely to prove fatal.”

Even PAVA shells, which are seen as the diluted form of pepper spray have come under flak from human rights activists because, as claimed, their effect may not always be short-term as expected. They can not only cause severe damage to the eyes, skin and lungs, but can even kill through respiratory arrests or a traumatic brain injury caused by flying canisters.

Stun grenades which create blinding flares of light and a loud sound are known to rupture eardrums and other delicate membranes in the lungs. Not only this, the shrapnel from such grenades can also be lethal.

While it is obvious that the government is trying to save face after the vehement protest by human rights activists against the use of pellet guns, it must be noted that any ‘non-lethal’ weapon does not guarantee to be so.

Instead of investing in a heavy defense, the government must, first and foremost recognize the right to protest as a fundamental right under the freedom of expression. It must train security personnel to follow strict protocol in terms of crowd management keeping the use of weapons as a last resort.

Related:
New Report Cites 432 Torture Cases In Kashmir From 1990-2017, 70% Victims Civilians
‘Non-Lethal’ Crowd-Control Methods Have Killed 24, Blinded 139 In Kashmir
Pellet guns return to Kashmir, baby girl shot in the eyes
 
 

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