As many as 114 companies, or over 11,000 personnel, have been pulled out midway through their training so they can be deployed in Kashmir to control the unrest, CRPF DG K Durga Prasad said on Monday.
He also said “we feel very sorry” for youths injured by pellet guns, but added that there was no such thing as a “non-lethal” weapon, and pellet guns were the “least lethal” option available with the force.
Prasad said that though all his men deployed in the Valley had basic training and were instructed to fire pellet guns below the knee, the “annual training” of personnel had “suffered”.
“Our annual training has suffered as we are in continuous deployment. As of today, all our training companies in Kashmir are deployed to control the unrest there. Training companies from other states have also been pulled out,” Prasad said.
“We feel very sorry for them as youngsters have to bear injuries due to the firing of pellet guns. We ourselves are trying to use it in bare minimum so that there are less injuries. But we use them under the extreme situation when crowd control fails by other means,” he said.
In the fortnight since the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, CRPF personnel have fired as many as 2,102 pellet cartridges in the Valley to disperse protesters. The Indian Express had reported that over 50 per cent of the 317 people, who sustained pellet injuries, have been hit in the eye.
“Everybody feels bad when youngsters get hit. But still, we will have to use it (pellet guns) in extreme situation as of now. We hope that any (extreme) situation does not arise (in future),” the CRPF chief said, ahead of the force’s 77th Raising Day on Wednesday.
Prasad said the CRPF is already experimenting with other options under the ‘less lethal weapon’ category available globally. He added that 7,500 ‘full body protectors’ are being procured for troops assigned crowd control duties.
The CRPF DG said his men on the ground have to react very rationally and without getting emotionally charged in circumstances like the ones being witnessed in the Valley. He said the situation was fast returning to normal, even though “there are stray incidents happening here and there”.
With over 1,000 CRPF men injured in stone pelting incidents, Prasad announced an additional financial assistance policy for personnel injured during crowd control. He said that those suffering minor injuries would be paid Rs 4,000, those with grievous injuries (of the kind in Kashmir) requiring hospitalisation would get Rs 25,000, those with bullet or splinter injuries would get Rs 50,000 and those who suffer permanent disability would be paid Rs 1 lakh.
Referring to anti-Maoist operations, he said the CRPF was now targeting Naxals at their hide-outs, and such operations would continue.
He also said the CRPF would celebrate Raising Day differently this year. “This year, we will celebrate it with our men. All senior officers have been asked to spend the night in field camps with jawans. Earlier, it would be celebrated in headquarters. Officers will also meet the family of martyrs and provide any assistance possible,” Prasad said.