The Central Reserve Police Force has fired over 3,000 pellet cartridges — each containing 450 metallic balls — in Kashmir since July 8, when the death of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani sparked protests.
However, it can be “difficult” to follow standard operating procedures on use of weapons, given the “dynamic and mobile” situation on the ground. CRPF submitted this on Wednesday before the Jammu and Kashmir high court, which is hearing a PIL seeking a ban on pellets.
According to the figures submitted by the paramilitary force, around 1.6 million pellets were fired on protesters from July 8 to August 11. “The SOP regarding use of firearms for crowd control in extreme situations requires that the weapon be aimed below the waist. But the situation prevailing on the streets during an ongoing law and order incident is dynamic and mobile,” said the CRPF affidavit. “In such a situation, sometimes it is difficult to go in for precise aimed fire at a moving, bending and running target.” The CRPF said pellet guns were introduced in 2010 and were an accepted weapon of “riot control”. “In case this is withdrawn from the options available with the CRPF, CRPF personnel would have no recourse in extreme situations but to open fire with rifles, which may cause more fatalities,” it said.
The PIL was filed by J&K High Court Bar Association on July 30. The CRPF and BSF have submitted their replies, but the state government is yet to respond. The next hearing is on August 20.