The Central Reserve Police Force has sent 21,000 rounds of newly-developed and 'less lethal' plastic bullets to the Kashmir Valley to tackle street protests, says a top officer of the force.
The bullets, developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation and manufactured by the Ordnance factory based in Pune, can be fitted in the AK series of assault rifles and will be an alternative to the much-criticised pellet shotguns.
"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," CRPF Director General R R Bhatnagar told PTI.
He said this will be newest less lethal ammunition the force has introduced to tackle crowds and counter stone pelters in the Valley.
"About 21,000 rounds have just been sent for distribution to all our units," the DG said.
The CRPF, deployed in counter-insurgency and law and order operations in Jammu and Kashmir, had ordered for the plastic bullets so that troops can just replace lethal metal bullets and use the new plastic ones.
Bhatnagar said both 47 and 56, the AK series of rifles, are used by the CRPF units deployed in the Kashmir Valley.
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.
Photograph: Danish Ismail/Reuters