Home Ministry sets up panel to look for pellet gun alternative

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New Delhi, July 26 (IANS) Following a public furore over severe eye injuries from pellet guns to scores of protesters in the Kashmir Valley, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday approved the formation of an expert committee to explore non-lethal alternatives to these guns.

The seven-member expert committee will be headed by the ministry’s Joint Secretary T.V.S.N. Prasad, officials said.

The panel has been asked to submit its report within two months.

Rajnath Singh told parliament on July 22 that the government planned to set up the panel to look for alternative to the pellet guns — used in a new surge of violence in Kashmir after the July 8 killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani.

Hundreds of protesters in Kashmir have suffered pellet injuries and many have been hit in their eyes, fuelling fears that they may be partially or completely blinded for life.

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The expert committee comprises senior officials from the Central Reserve Police Force, Border Security Force, Jammu and Kashmir Police, Ordnance Factory Board and Terminal Ballistics Research Laboratory, Chandigarh, apart from an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) professor.

These are Atul Karwal (CRPF), Rajeev Krishna (BSF), Rajesh Kumar (J&K Police), Tushar Tripathy (OFB), Manjit Singh (TBRL) and Professor Naresh Bhatnagar (IIT-Delhi).

The use of pellet guns against stone-throwing protesters has sparked international condemnation with the Amnesty International asking the government to prohibit the use of these guns on street protesters.

A pellet is considered non-lethal but can leave a victim maimed or blinded for life.

A pellet gun sprays small iron ball bearings towards a target with high velocity. These bearing can pierce a human body at dozens of spots simultaneously. It can prove more dangerous if fired from a close range.

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