After killing 14, blinding above 1000, pellet guns to become less lethal

After killing 14, blinding above 1000, pellet guns to become less lethal

CRPF receives consignment of aluminum deflectors to be fitted on guns to minimise damage to sensitive organs

Pellet guns, which have left at least a 1000 people partially or fully blinded during street protests since July last year, will now be fitted with deflectors to minimise injuries to eyes and sensitive organs above the waist.

The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) has received a consignment of the deflectors that will be fitted on all pellet guns in its possession, said its spokesman in Srinagar, Rajesh Yadav.

A pellet gun or pump action gun normally fires a single cartridge that spits out as many as 400 small pellets, which don’t follow a definite path. Pellets penetrate the body’s soft tissues. Eyes are the most vulnerable to damage as they are delicate. A pellet causes multiple damages to all parts of the eye.

“The deflector, which is an aluminum shield fitted on the upper side of the muzzle, will ensure that lesser velocity pellets hit protesters only on the lower parts of the body, not vulnerable area of abdomen and above,” said a senior CRPF official on the condition of anonymity. 

“By using a deflector and aiming at a protester’s legs, there is only a two per cent chance that pellets will miss the intended spot. Without a deflector, the chances are 40 per cent,” he said.

As many 14 people were killed due to pellet ammunition and more than 1500 others, mostly youths, suffered injuries since July last year when the Valley erupted over the killing of Hizb commander Burhan Wani. During the recently held Trauma Congress at the Government Medical College, doctors said that during four months of 2016 alone, 500 victims with abdominal trauma were treated at the hospital—85 with bullet and 349 with pellet injuries. 

The Souvenir of the Conference, which included an abstract of papers in the Congress, said that 1028 pellet injuries were treated by the Department of Ophthalmology since July 2016. 

“Eye pellet injuries are unique to this place as no other state uses pellets to control mobs,” summed up the paper, Clinical Profile of Pellet – Ocular Trauma. Over 65 youth were declared legally blind, doctors at the SKIMS said, among them 15-year-old Insha Mushtaq of Sedow, Shopian, who was hit by a full burst of pellets in her face. 

Sources in the CRPF said that at least 2580 CRPF personnel suffered injuries, 122 of them grave injuries, since July last year. 

During his recent visit to Kashmir, Director General of CRPF Rajeev Rai Bhatnagar had taken stock of the live demonstration of pump action guns fitted with deflectors in Srinagar and hoped that “let peace prevail and pellet guns remain stored in stores only”.

It was after mounting pressure from various quarters that the Ministry of Home Affairs agreed to get the pellet guns fitted with deflectors. 

There was also a massive outcry from various quarters, calling for a ban on pellet guns, but the Union Home Minister during his visit to Srinagar had asserted that pellet guns would be used as a last option. J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti also directed the forces to use pellet guns only if crowds attack police stations.