Alternative to pellet guns : Chilli-filled PAVA grenades?
New Delhi: The Centre has zeroed in on chilli-filled PAVA shells as an alternative to pellet guns, it is learnt. PAVA, meaning Pelargonic Acid Vanillyl Amide, can severely irritate and paralyse humans, but only in a temporary fashion. Chilli-filled PAVA grenades will replace pellet guns to control protesters in Kashmir.
An expert committee constituted by the Union Home Ministry to find the alternatives to the pellet guns for usage in Kashmir has zeroed in potent and newly developed ‘PAVA shells’, a chilli-based less lethal equipment which temporarily incapacitates the target and renders them immobile for several minutes.
The Central decision, however, has not found favour with the central reserve police force (CRPF), which is in the forefront of handling the unrest in the Valley.
The committee early this week held a full fledged demonstration of the maiden shells at a test field in the national capital and gave its thumbs up for use by security forces in Kashmir valley in substitute to the pellet guns which has led to wide scale criticism as their usage led to cases of severe blindness and injuries to the people.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh declared in Srinagar on Thursday that the Centre is keen on finding an alternative to the pellet guns.
It also learnt that the expert committee has recommended that the Tear Smoke Unit (TSU) of the BSF in Gwalior should be tasked with bulk production of the shells “immediately”, with the first lot of around 50,000 rounds. On the Scoville scale (the degree by which spicy heat and chilli power is measured), PAVA is categorised as “above peak”, meaning it will severely irritate and paralyse humans, but only temporarily.
It is further learnt, that the committee has zeroed in on chilli-filled PAVA grenades, as the simulation tests have been done even on the children as young as the 12 years age group and have proved to be safe. Under trial for over a year at the Indian Institute of Toxicology Research, a Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) laboratory in Lucknow, its full development has come at a time when Kashmir is on the boil.
The CRPF officials, who have handled the ground situation in the Kashmir Valley claim these alternatives are going to be of little use against the fury of the mobs and are not fool-proof against overzealous mobs that uses local geography to their advantage.
“Committed agitators who are ready to risk their lives will find ways to outwit the alternatives. In such a scenario we may have to turn back to the safety of regular service weapons that will increase casualty rate,” said one of the CRPF official.
Pellet guns were earlier used for hunting animals. When it is fired the cylindrical munitions bursts and tiny ball bearings sprinkles in air with lethal fierceness. Though the pellet gun has not caused casualty, it has blinded many people since its induction in 2010.
However, the CRPF thinks that the announcement has come too soon than anyone have expected and without any proper preparation.