Chilli-filled PAVA guns not effective, say Kashmir troopers
SRINAGAR: The Pava shells, the much-promised alternative to the dreaded pellet guns, have proved ineffective. At least that’s the feedback received from troopers by officers of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and the Jammu & Kashmir Police.
On Eid day, Tuesday, as personnel struggled to beat back stone-pelters, tear smoke shells were more in evidence than PAVA shells, and reportedly caused at least two of the deaths reported in the Valley. An official told The New Indian Express: “The feedback has been negative so far but it is too early to come to any conclusion. We have been using the PAVA shells only when the situation is threatening to spiral out of control.” The feedback from troopers is being compiled and a report is to be sent to the Union Home Ministry, he said. Faced with severe criticism about the use of pellet guns -- which have caused grievous facial injuries to over 600 people since the current spell of violence broke out in July -- the Home Ministry presented the PAVA shells as a nonlethal alternative. Over the past one week, large supplies of the ‘chilli-based’ PAVA shells have been supplied to the security forces and are being used to tackle stonepelters on a daily basis. However, it was not clear whether the use of pellet guns has completely stopped.
According to informed sources, troopers on the ground feel that pellet guns are a more effective weapon. In fact some personnel said the PAVA shells have not been much of a deterrent to the youngsters ranged against them.
“There have been instances when despite firing PAVA shells, the crowd continued to pelt stones though their eyes hurt. Moreover almost all protesters come prepared covering their faces,” a CRPF Jawan said. A senior official in the J&K Police, however, said he has been getting conflicting reports from his troopers.