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2016-07-26 04:44:47

CRPF would continue to use pellet guns in Kashmir: DG

CRPF, accused of disproportionate use of force in Kashmir, Monday expressed regret for injuries caused to youths due to firing of pellet guns in the Valley and said it would continue to use this “least-lethal” weapon but only in “extreme” situations.
Addressing a press conference, Director General of Central Reserve Police Force K Durga Prasad said there was no weapon called “non-lethal” and the pellet guns, often used for crowd control in Valley, was the “least-lethal” option available with the force.
“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 replying a volley of questions on use of pellet guns in Kashmir Valley.
A large number of youths have been injured in the last fortnight when CRPF personnel used pellet guns to control protests in the wake of killing of Burhan Wani, a top militant of Hizbul Mujahideen.
The paramilitary force has received widespread criticism for the use of this category of non-lethal weapon, prompting Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to announce in Parliament that a committee will be set up to review use of pellet guns and find an alternative to it.
“Everybody feel 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 the other options under the less-lethal weapon category available globally.
Explaining the stress under which the CRPF personnel were deployed in Kashmir Valley, he said as many as 114 companies (about 11,400 personnel), which were undergoing training elsewhere, had to be pulled out and deployed in the state to control the situation arising after Wani’s death.
“Our annual training has suffered as we are in continuous deployment. As of today, all our training companies are deployed in some theatre or the other,” he added. 
The CRPF DG said instructions have been given to all force personnel that the pellet guns, whenever used in Kashmir, should be fired below the knee level.
“The injuries have taken place as the force had to resort to firing of pellet guns when the protesters come very close and there is a possibility of loss of lives either side,” he said.
Prasad said pellet guns are used only in Kashmir as in no other place in the country, protesters resort to stone pelting of such a magnitude as he pointed to the large size of bricks and stones being used there.
He said more than 1,000 security personnel were injured due to stone pelting and other forms of attacks by protesters.
The CRPF DG said his men on the ground have to react very rationally and without getting emotionally charged in circumstances like those being witnessed in Kashmir Valley.
Prasad said around 7,500 ‘full body protectors’ are being procured for use of troops deployed in crowd control duties. 
Dismissing the suggestions that the state government has provided inputs that a tense situation would arise after Burhan’s death, he said the situation was fast returning to normalcy even though “there are stray incidents happening here and there”.

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