At a time when Kashmir is seeking an end to use of pellet guns that have wreaked havoc in the region, it has come to fore that crores of rupees have been spent over the years to procure these weapons in Jammu & Kashmir.
According to official sources, the State Home Ministry sanctioned Rs 4.71 crore for J&K police in 2011 to procure pellet guns that were first used by forces in 2010 when Kashmir was in the grip of a massive anti-India uprising.
The use of pellet guns, which are killing, blinding and maiming civilians, has come under sharp criticism during the ongoing uprising in Kashmir that entered its 76th day on Thursday.
According to official sources, 10 persons have been killed by pellet gunfire in the past 75 days while over 873 have been shot in their eyes.
Moreover, J&K also figures among top buyers of tear-smoke shells and other "non-lethal" weapons from BSF's Tekanpur-based Tear Smoke Unit—the main manufacturer of such weapons in India.
In 2015-16, J&K police was the second top-most buyer of the "non-lethal" and "less lethal" weapons produced by the Unit.
"In 2015-16 Police Forces have lifted more than 5.03 lakh non-lethal munitions and the major chunk by Police from Gujarat and J&K," reads an official document.
Curiously, J&K relatively remained peaceful in 2015-16.
Officials in Police department told Greater Kashmir that these purchases are made under two centrally-funded programs—Modernization of Police Forces (MPF) and Security Related Expenditure (SRE).
"In some cases, the Government of India makes direct payment to ordnance factories for weapons and ammunition purchased by State Police," they said.
As already reported by Greater Kashmir on September 17, at least 29 persons have died after being hit by pellet gunfire and tear-smoke shells in Kashmir since 2008—the year massive anti-India uprising took place against transfer of Kashmir land to Amarnath Shrine Board by the then PDP-led government.
While 16 persons were killed by pellet guns in 2010 and 2016, 13 civilians lost their lives after being hit by teargas shells in vital parts of their bodies since 2008, the details reveal.