With eye injuries caused by use of pellet guns turning into a raging issue in Jammu and Kashmir, a Home Ministry panel has suggested replacing pellet guns with “less lethal” PAVA (Pelargonic Acid Vanillyl Amide) shells, a chilli-based non-lethal munition which temporarily incapacitates the targets and renders them immobile for several minutes.
The PAVA shells, as per a blueprint prepared in this regard, were under test at the Indian Institute of Toxicology Research, a Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) laboratory in Lucknow for over a year.
Sources privy to the working of the committee said the panel has favoured PAVA shells as an alternative to pellet guns and has recommended that the Tear Smoke Unit (TSU) of the BSF in Gwalior should be tasked with the bulk production of the shells “immediately”, with the first lot not of less than 50,000 rounds.
It is also used as a food additive to add pungency, flavouring and spicy effect to food. Another alternative to pellet guns include ‘Tear Smoke Shell with Soft Nose’ which does not give serious injury to protestors when hit directly and its plastic body starts melting immediately on landing with emission of the smoke making it difficult to pick and throw away.
However, the CRPF thinks the announcement has come too soon than expected and without any proper preparations. “We are not yet ready for any other alternative yet. It is one thing to espouse ban on pellet guns and another to be on the streets and face blood-thirsty mobs of hundreds. The pellet guns are the least lethal weapon we can use to handle such mobs that are ready to overrun police stations and secure camps,” said a senior CRPF official.
Trying to put forward the humane face of the government, home minister Rajnath Singh declared in Srinagar on Thursday that the Centre is keen on an alternative to the pellet guns. “When I came here last time I said I’ve set up an expert committee, which will submit its report in two months… I want to inform you that one month has passed and within three-four days expert committee will submit its report. Within a few days we will give alternative to the pellet gun,” Singh said.