The mob control strategy employed by the security forces amidst mass uprising in Kashmir valley in 2016 had brought the use of 12 bore pump action guns with pellet shots under scrutiny of various parties. The weapon blinded and grievously injured many last year when it was used to disperse protesters hurling stones and lashing provocative slogans against security forces.
Currently, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) has 640 pump action guns, widely known as pellet guns, but in the coming months more than 4,000 will be procured. The idea is to adequately equip every unit of the paramilitary with the ‘low-intensity munition’ to deal with frenzied crowd in demonstrations and during counterinsurgency operations.
A report published on an news site stated, “Earlier, pump action guns were available with only those units facing civilian protests and demonstrations like those in downtown Srinagar,’’ said a CRPF commander. These wild protests have now spread across the Valley to even villages in south and north Kashmir. “It has become necessary that every company has adequate non-lethal weapons. Now, these guns will form part of every company’’.
The Ministry of Home Affairs has made fresh authorisation of 4,949 pump action guns for CRPF units deployed as Rapid Action Force, and Mahila Battalion in J&K, taking the total number of pump action guns to 5,589, as reported. Around nine pump action guns will be available with every company (around 120 personnel). More than six lakh matching cartridges, commonly referred to as pellet-shots, have also been authorised, up from 1.25 lakh last year.
The report also states that the CRPF had made the request for additional pump action guns and pellet shots in April last year, nearly two months before protests in the Valley broke out. “There were a number of instances when police stations and security posts and bunkers were attacked or set on fire by the crowd last year. We did not have adequate munitions to even protect ourselves and had to procure non-lethal weapons from the units which had. In such a situation, tear-gas shells or lathi-charge is not a solid defence,’’ said a CRPF officer, explaining the need for additional pellet guns.