To tackle street protests in Kashmir, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) has sent 21,000 rounds of newly-developed and “less lethal” plastic bullets in the Valley, a top officer said.
The bullets can be fitted in the AK series of assault rifles and will be an alternative to the much-criticised pellet shotguns. They have been developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and manufactured by the Ordnance factory based in Pune.
While speaking to PTI, CRPF Director General (DG) RR Bhatnagar said, “Tests have shown that these plastic bullets are less lethal. This will reduce our dependence on pellet guns and other non-lethal weapons used for crowd control.”
“About 21,000 rounds have just been sent for distribution to all our units,” the Bhatnagar said.
The plastic bullets were ordered by the CRPF so that troops can just replace lethal metal bullets and use the new ones.
Both 47 and 56, the AK series of rifles, are used by the CRPF units deployed in the Kashmir Valley, the DG said. The bullets have been prepared in such a calibre that it fits the barrel, he added.
“As soon as a crowd or stone pelting incident is encountered, the troops just need to change the bullets and fire,” the DG said.
Bhatnagar added that the force has not done away with other non-lethal weapons and is getting more pump action guns fitted with metal deflectors so that pellet injuries do not go above the waist.
“Even our specialised anti-riot unit RAF can use it at some point of time to render their duties. We will see how to go about it in the future,” the DG said.
The usage of pellets in the Kashmir Valley had come under heavy criticism after locals suffered grevious injuries, including blindness in some cases, in the last few years.
The Union government had then ordered for the introduction of chilli-based PAVA shells to replace the pellet shotguns.
(With PTI inputs)