New Delhi: In a major move ahead of the all-party delegation’s visit to Jammu and Kashmir, the central government on Saturday gave its nod to the use of alternative chilli-filled grenades instead of the highly controversial pellet guns.
According to sources, Home Minister Rajnath Singh gave his approval to the decision to replace the use of pellet guns with Pelargonic Acid Vanillyl Amide (PAVA).
The pellet guns, which have caused numerous blindings in Kashmir Valley in the ongoing unrest, have been widely criticised.
“The government today cleared the use of Pelargonic Acid Vanillyl Amide (PAVA). This would mean in rarest of occasions for mob control, henceforth there will be use of chilli-filled grenades,” an official source told IANS here.
A sample lot of the PAVA grenades could be soon sent to Kashmir also, sources indicated.
Also called Nonivamide, the use of PAVA seeks to “temporarily incapacitate people” so that they can be detained easily prior to arrest or deterred from acts of violence toward law-enforcement personnel and security forces, the source said.
“The decision to clear an alternative measure to use of pellet guns which assumed a major controversial issue in Kashmir fulfills Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s assurance given to the people of the state during his visit to J&K on August 25,” the source said.
The ‘PAVA shells’ were under trial for over a year at the Indian Institute of Toxicology Research laboratory in Lucknow.
However, it is not yet clear whether there will be total ban on use of pellet guns, as security forces would favour retaining it for “rarest of rare cases”, sources said.
An expert committee headed by Joint Secretary in the Home Ministry T.V.S.N. Prasad examined the issue of possible use of PAVA – chilli powder based grenades, and favoured its use in its report submitted to the government.
Home Minister Singh has also told the Lok Sabha on July 21 during the monsoon session of Parliament that the pellet guns fired on protesters in Kashmir had killed one person and also resulted in eye injuries to 53 during the unrest that followed the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani on July 8.
Official sources admitted that pellets were quite harmful as once the pellet goes inside an eye it shatters tissues and causes multiple damage to the eye.
BJP leaders have meanwhile maintained both inside and outside Parliament that pellet guns use was introduced by the Jammu and Kashmir police in 2010 when the National Conference was in power and Congress in Delhi. The pellet guns were put into use in 2010 when more then 100 people were killed during a series of stone-pelting protests in the Kashmir valley.
The expert committee headed by the Joint Secretary Prasad in its report had suggested that the government should ask the Tear Smoke Unit of the Border Security Force to produce at least 50,000 rounds of the shells as the first lot.