Under fire for using pellet guns 'indiscriminately', the paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) is now holding "field drills" in Kashmir Valley to what it calls "assess the possibility of minimizing the damage caused by the pellet guns."
Armed with hundreds of pellet guns which have wreaked havoc across the Valley in the past 20 days of unrest, the CRPF official said the drills are "aimed to see if the use of pellet guns can be minimized or the damage caused by it done away with."
The CRPF move comes at a time when forces are under severe attack for using pellets 'indiscriminately' on street protesters in the Valley which has resulted in serious injuries to over 120 youth, most of whom are feared to lose sight in one or both eyes.
A senior CRPF official said they have "no alternative to pellets or any directions for stopping use of pellets in Kashmir."
The official said the CRPF's Director General K Durga Prassad also took stock of the "ongoing field drills" in Srinagar. "He left after passing certain directions to us," he said, refusing to divulge these "directions."
He said a team of officials has been formed to monitor the "drills" and assess whether there is a possibility to minimize the damage caused by pellet guns.
CRPF's spokesman Rajeshwar Yadav said they are using 8/9 cartridge at present. "We are looking as to how the effect of pellets on protestors can be minimized," he told Greater Kashmir. "We are looking into many aspects that include the distance and the target area. Our intention is never to hit above-waist but yet some youth including small boys get hit on their chests and faces. So distance factor is being look into positively." There are over 600 pellet guns with the CRPF alone in Kashmir.
Sources said the CRPF men involved in these drills are also looking into directions to be followed by its men while using pellets to "minimize injuries."
"The officials monitoring the drill will submit their report by July 30 and the recommendations will be made part of Standard Operating Procedure (SOP)," they said.