‘Portion of 1 lakh cartridges already distributed to districts as per requisition’
Amid massive outrage over use of pellets guns in Kashmir, the J&K police has recently received a fresh consignment of one lakh pellet cartridges—a “lethal weapon” used to deal with the ongoing protests in Kashmir.
“This fresh consignment of one lakh pellet cartridges, weighing eight ton, was received after the Home Minister Rajnath Singh concluded his first visit to Kashmir on July 24,” a senior official from J&K’s Home Department, in know-how of the developments, told Greater Kashmir on Thursday.
The official said the consignment, flown in a special Indian Air Force plane, was received by Central Store of J&K Police at Zewan (on Srinagar outskirts). The CRPF, the official said, gets its own quota of the ammunition, at its Srinagar store.
“A portion of this delivery has already been distributed to different districts as per the requisition made by the concerned heads of police,” said the official.
One cartridge contains around 635 pellets, making the fresh consignment in total to around 6.3 crore pellets.
The pellet guns used by the CRPF and J&K police are made at Pune-based Indian Ordnance Factory and the fresh consignment was received from there.
On August 19, the CRPF told the J&K High Court that its forces fired over 3,000 pellet cartridges in Kashmir since July 8, following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani.
In the past 55 days of uprising in Kashmir, at least 684 people including teenagers have been hit by the pellets in their eyes. At least 45 of them have lost their eyesight in one or both eyes. Besides, six of 70 civilians, who were killed in action by forces, have died due to pellet injuries in vital organs.
The “excessive” use of the “lethal” weapon and the damage caused by it to the eyes had led to the demand for complete ban of the pellet guns in Jammu and Kashmir. While the Government of India had formed a committee that was tasked to recommend an alternative to pellets guns in Kashmir, it has however said the use of the pellets would continue in the ‘rarest’ cases. Besides the government is now introducing the chilli-filled PAVA guns as “crowd control tool” in Kashmir.
To a question, the official refused to disclose whether the fresh consignment was bare-metal pellets, considered to be most dangerous, or rubber coated pellets.
Pellets were one of three “non-lethal weapons” introduced in Kashmir for crowd control in 2010 during which more the 120 people were killed in action by forces during the three-month summer uprising.
Police records suggest that other “non-lethal weapons” used by forces including Police and CRPF include rubber bullets, stunt grenades, multi-button shells, blank rounds, pepper balls and capsicum grenades.