The Supreme Court while hearing a petition filed by the Jammu and Kashmir Bar Association against pellet guns, said that government was working on a secret weapon to disperse crowds. Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi who was from the Central government’s side also said that there were options that the government was mulling. Rohatgi also told the apex court that the Centre was exploring other options like rubber bullets, instead of pellet guns.
Earlier, last year, the Army had recommended replacing pellet guns widely used by paramilitary forces in dispersing the crowds with less lethal weapons such as sound cannons, pepper shotguns and chilli grenades.
The Army commander of northern region, Lieutenant General DS Hooda had said that the recommendations were made to a Centre-appointed committee reviewing the use of pellet guns during month-long protests across Kashmir after the killing of a militant leader there. Pellets have wounded thousands of protesters, especially children, and many of them were blinded for life, triggering outrage over the use of the weapon touted as non-lethal. Sonic cannons, used by law-enforcement agencies worldwide, emit ultra-high frequency blasts that trigger an ear-splitting sound to disperse mobs. Pepper guns fire plastic shells packed with pepper that explode on contact causing severe eye, nose and throat irritation.
It is Chilli grenades, developed by India’s military scientists, can cause more intense physical discomfort than pepper guns. A concentrate from one of the world’s hottest chillis, bhut jolokia or Naga chilli endemic to the Northeast, is used in these grenades. In a report to ANI, Mukul Rohtagi said that a rubber bullet was not as lethal as a pellet gun, but it’ll be used only as a last resort,” Rohatgi said.