Home Ministry sits on report backing less-lethal riot control technology

Five people are reported to have been killed by police 12-gauge shotguns that fire No. 9 lead birdshot, and two more by teargas shells, since the report was finalised on September 1.

Written by Deeptiman Tiwary , Praveen Swami | New Delhi | Published: September 15, 2016 12:01 am
lethal, less lethal riots, less-lethal riot control technologies, kashmir unrest, kashmir pellet firing, home ministry, J&K police, no pellet firing, teargas shells, birdshot, what is lethal riot, riot-control technologies, anti riot vehicles, indian express news, india news, latest news Birdshot is reported to have claimed over 25 lives, and left over 100 people with various degrees of permanent visual impairment since the protests began.

Two weeks after a high-level government committee approved new, less-lethal riot control technologies to check the violence in Kashmir, the Ministry of Home Affairs is yet to order acquisition of the equipment, government sources have told The Indian Express. The J&K Police and the CRPF are also yet to be formally notified of the committee’s recommendations, sources said.

Five people are reported to have been killed by police 12-gauge shotguns that fire No. 9 lead birdshot, and two more by teargas shells, since the report was finalised on September 1.

Birdshot is reported to have claimed over 25 lives, and left over 100 people with various degrees of permanent visual impairment since the protests began.

MHA officials did not respond to text and e-mail requests seeking a comment.

The slow progress in acting on the committee’s findings has raised fears that the recommendations could go the way of a similar 2010 effort, which was made after violence in Kashmir claimed over 100 lives.

Led by MHA Joint Secretary TVSN Prasad, the expert committee’s report — accessed by The Indian Express — calls on the government to acquire and deploy 12 kinds of riot-control technologies, ranging from drones to map crowd movements to better body armour for police. It also suggests futuristic technologies, like directed-energy systems that use microwaves to create a sensation of unbearable heat.

But the Centre has so far only supplied shells filled with the chemical irritant pelargonic acid vanillylamide, or PAVA, designed to be fired from traditional 38 millimetre teargas guns. The report says the shells, manufactured by the BSF, are intended to be used at ranges of 135±10 metres.

“It’s not accurate to cast the PAVA shells as some sort of substitute for shotguns,” a senior police officer in Kashmir said. “Cases of lethal fire have involved protesters posing a threat to police at short range. PAVA shells don’t address that situation at all.”

The report calls for police forces to be equipped for shorter-range engagement with other PAVA-based weapons, including a pneumatic .68-calibre pepper-ball system, which disintegrates on contact with hard targets at up to 30 metres. It also suggests the use of hand-held PAVA grenades. This equipment, however, has not been purchased.

Large parts of the report’s recommendations reiterate suggestions made by a task force set up in September 2010. For example, an expert sub-committee that worked with the 2010 task force also called for water cannon systems to be modified to work in narrow lanes. It also recommended teargas canisters with soft heads to avoid fatalities, new irritants and malodorants.

Kashmir police officials said that instead of these new technologies being inducted, their capabilities have degraded since then. For example, more than 100 Mahindra Rakshak armoured vehicles, which suffered engine damage in the 2014 floods, are yet to be repaired because the state government has been unable to procure replacement engines from the manufacturer.

“Lack of vehicles which keep personnel safe from stones and petrol bombs make them more likely to reach for the gun,” a senior police officer said.

The expert report says that “available anti-riot vehicles need to be further strengthened with capabilities of water jets, clearing roads of obstacles, providing adequate protection to personnel inside, protection from gunfire, fire, stones, petrol bombs, etc.”

It also calls for police to be “equipped with the appropriate body protection gear, helmets and riot shields”.

To aid crowd dispersal, the committee calls for the use of Skunk — a non-toxic malodorant used by police in the US and Israel, which is sprayed through a water cannon. Known for a smell described by one observer as “a mix between excrement and a decomposing donkey”, it repels crowds by inducing retching.

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  1. M
    Sep 15, 2016 at 1:06 am
    Use Laughing gas, sell the scene to Bollywood movies! Cheer up the people and make money then spend it in public education in the valley.
    1. A
      Sep 15, 2016 at 7:41 pm
      As we all know killing and death toll raising is not an option for peace also it very difficult to kill all Kashmirs . Government has taken a good decision and once the situation comes under control Government can take further steps to prevent similar issues in the valley. lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Thousands blind,disables,molested,oppressed generation only can fuel the fire in the valleys issues . We all fought for freedom against British rule and finally we achieved that with sacrifice of thousand martyrs who shed their blood for the nation. lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt; Hence, Government decision is to be welcomed and we hope good initiatives can lead the Kashmir to peace in future. In addition , Government must not stop actions,calm strategies to sleep in white papers.
      1. A
        Adrian Akau
        Sep 15, 2016 at 6:18 am
        Perhaps Minister of Home Affairs is only talk but no action or perhaps funding for this has gone into someone's pockets.
        1. S
          Sankaran Krishnan
          Sep 15, 2016 at 7:20 am
          The only to make them understand the situation is to send them to the JandK or its Borders and once suffers they will immediately order from that place instead waiting to go over to Delhi office and make it quicker action. With such lethargic atude of Home Ministry Officials nothing can be done by the Govt. other than taking blame for employing them as Govt. Servants !!!
          1. Anjan Kumar Samal
            Sep 15, 2016 at 4:19 pm
            The Diversified stand of Indian culture reacts diversely even if in tensed and riot rotten situation like now in the valley ,the Indian Paradise -INDIA'S KASHMIR.Even a little child of this nation truly knows KASHMIR is ours without knowing it's cause and effect.The seed of communism sown in the valley during Pre Independence is now a fully grown huge tree whose falling is dangerous as well as it's stands.we all are part of the AKHAND BHARAT not part of the Fractured India.We all should be united for one India, not should be part of Broken India.Any one of this Nation should realize that he/she may be a Hindu or May be a Muslim or any other community ,if she/he has no pain for the Motherland he/she must be thrown out of India because the Consution of India reveals a one Mantra for one India and that is THE COUNTRY FIRST. JAI HIND.
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