Kashmir unrest: Army backs CRPF pellet guns, says its ‘least lethal’ option

Dras (Jammu and Kashmir), July 26 : A day after the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), which is the largest force deployed in civilian areas for controlling law and order, said it would continue to use the weapon in the valley, the Indian Army on Tuesday backed it saying the guns were the 'least lethal' option of weaponry.

Lieutenant General D.S. Hooda (Northern Command Chief) said there is a requirement of non-lethal weaponry, adding that pellet guns are classified as part of the weaponry.

"There is a requirement of non-lethal weaponry and pellet guns are classified as part of the non-lethal weaponry.

Unfortunately, they have caused some casualties. It's still a better form than using fire arms or weapons. There is much better non-lethal weaponry which is available around the world. The Home Minister has said that they are going to explore whether we can get some better and more modern non-lethal weaponry," Hooda said while interacting with media here on the occasion of Kargil Vijay Diwas.

He pointed out that at present there are not too many options, but expressed hope that surely they would find better means to deal with the crowd.

Hooda's statement came days after Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh urged the security forces in Kashmir to avoid using pellet guns against the protestors.

Talking on civil disturbance in the valley over protests following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani, Hooda said the army is not at the forefront in tackling this civil disturbance.

"It's more of the police and the CRPF which is doing.they are doing it with utmost restraint. We are there on ground, we are seeing it happening. The police have been dealing with the situation for the last 20-25 years and they know exactly what is to be done," he added.

He however, said one gets into a situation where one is forced to adopt other measures. "When police stations are being looted. there is murderous mob sorting of attacking you, your own lives are at danger. It's only in those situations that people are forced to take some more measures," he added. Appealing to the youth of Kashmir, Hooda acknowledged that there is angst among the population and asked whether there is some other way of dealing with the situation.

"Can we do this in a manner in which people don't get hurt and life doesn't get disrupted? Our appeal to the youth is that there is a time we can sit and talk about it.

Those who are trying to pick up the guns or picked up the gun.we have said this before that please come back in the mainstream and we assure that proper rehabilitation will be carried out," he added.