The pellets used by police and Central Reserve Police Force to disperse protesters in Kashmir are "bare-metal pellets" and the Standard Operating Procedure prepared by the Bureau of Police Research and Development for crowd control makes no mention of pellet guns, officials said on Thursday.
Police records suggest that in the past more than three weeks, CRPF personnel have fired more than 6000 pellet cartridges in Kashmir to disperse pro
testers who hit the Valley streets against the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani and the subsequent civilian killings and injuries. The pellets have already blinded scores of people who were hit in their eyes while three deaths have so far taken place due to these so-called non-lethal weapons.
Police records suggest that other "non-lethal weapons" used by CRPF include plastic pellet guns, rubber bullets, stun grenades, multi-button shells, blank rounds, pepper balls and capsicum grenades.
Pellets were one of three "non-lethal weapons" introduced in Kashmir for crowd control in the aftermath of 2010 protests in which more the 120 people were killed in action by Police, CRPF and Army. The other two were pepper sprays and teargas guns.
Actually small balls made of iron, pellets can be of varying weight and size, according to officials.
"The ones recovered from bodies injured persons in the past three weeks indicates that the Central Reserve Police Force is using bare-metal pellets," a senior police officer, monitoring the Valley situation, told Greater Kashmir. "That action really resulted in grave injuries."
The senior police officer said pellets made of metal have to be covered by a 1 or 2 mm rubber coating to minimize their impact. He said this is not to say that a rubber-covered pellet, or a rubber bullet as it is commonly referred to, can't kill. "Here pellets being used have no such coverage," he said.
The officer said since the eruption of on-going unrest on July 8—when Burhan was killed—the SOP is not being followed in letter and spirit to quell the pro-freedom demonstrations. He said metal pellets used by forces here are shot from a 12 bore gun armed with a cartridge that can carry as many as 600 pellets. "When fired, it sprays and not shoots pellets," he said.
"The iron balls are shot at a speed low enough for the person under attack to discern that he's under threat, but the spray is wide enough to ensure the target is unable to escape," he said.
He said taking into account "their lethal potential", pellets should be fired from at least a distance of 500 feet. "If shot from a closer range, the chances of causing permanent damage increase. Pellet gun should be aimed to shoot below the waist," he said, adding: "Most of the injuries reported in the past three weeks are above-waist."
The police officer said the Standard Operating Procedure prepared by the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D) has no mention of pellet guns. He said crowd control has a laid SOP but in almost all cases in Kashmir it wasn't followed.
"For dispersing a protest, you have to use public address system and water-cannons. But here it is teargas, pellets and bullets that are used," he said.
Commenting over use of "bare metal" pellets in Kashmir, Special Director of CRPF, S N Srivastav said they use pellets which are being supplied to the force. "We are not manufactures of pellets. They get manufactured in ordinance factories," he told Greater Kashmir.
About number pellet cartridges used by CRPF in the past more than weeks, he claimed it will be less than 6000.