While the BSF has been asked to make modifications to PAVA shells after they were found to have slow emission rate, low potency and a delayed emission rate once they hit the ground during initial use in the Valley, other non-lethal crowd control options are being tested as well, Home Ministry sources said Monday. The use of PAVA or pelargonic acid vanillylamide, a synthetic pepper extract, was recommended as an alternative to pellet guns by a seven-member expert committee appointed by the ministry. This was after the use of pellet guns was criticised due to many in the Valley suffering serious eye injuries after being hit by pellets.
PAVA shells were under trial for over a year at the Indian Institute of Toxicology Research, a Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) laboratory in Lucknow.
“We have received reports from the ground about the problems being faced with PAVA shells, such as slow emission rate. We are working to rectify these issues. The expert panel had also suggested some 10 to 11 other alternatives to pellet guns. These are currently being tested before a decision is taken to use,” said a source in the ministry.
Sources said one of the options put forward by the expert panel was Skunk — a malodorant, non-lethal weapon used for crowd control in Israel. “However, during testing, it did not meet our requirements,” said the source.
The Indian Express had first reported last month that the J&K Police and the CRPF had received reports from at least three districts, where PAVA shells had shown slow emission rate, low potency and a delayed emission once they hit the ground. Senior officers of J&K Police had said that after using PAVA shells, they had spoken to the BSF, which is manufacturing the shells, to make modifications.