Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday approved the use of synthetic oleoresin capsicum grenades, also called PAVA shells, as an alternative to the use of pellet guns by security forces for crowd control in Kashmir.
PAVA (pelargonic acid vanillylamide) is more potent than natural oleoresin capsicum gas which is extracted from processed capsicum. It causes severe irritation and watering of eyes apart from a burning sensation on the skin. Its exposure to water causes greater irritation.
According to sources, an initial batch of 1,000 shells would reach security forces in the Valley on Sunday.
During his last visit to Kashmir on August 24-25, Singh had said that an alternative to the use of pellet guns by security forces would be found. Home Ministry sources said pellet guns would not be banned completely, but would be used in “rarest of rare cases”.
The use of PAVA was recommended by a seven-member expert committee, headed by Joint Secretary in the Home Ministry T V S N Prasad, in its report submitted on August 29. The panel was set up to suggest other non-lethal weapons after the use of pellet guns was severely criticised due to a large number of people 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.
Meanwhile, the home minister on Saturday also intervened to sort out the problems being faced by students from Jammu, Srinagar and Ladakh at Gyan Vihar University in Jaipur.
“On talking to the students, he learnt that they had some difficulties in getting their scholarship under the Prime Minister Special Scholarship Scheme,” said a home ministry spokesperson.
According to the spokesperson, Singh asked the Rajasthan education minister to sort out the operational difficulty by Monday, and told the students to meet him in New Delhi on September 6 if the problem persists.
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