Srinagar, Dec 08: The Kashmir police is likely to add stun grenades and blast dispersal cartridges (BDCs) to its ‘non-lethal’ armoury against the valley’s volatile streets.
“Supplies are underway, in addition to equipment already in use by the police,’ the state police chief was quoted as having told newsmen in Jammu while referring to an extensive shopping list of protective gear for personnel and deterrents for violent mobs.
Originally developed for combat situations for the British Special Air Service over half a century ago, stun grenades are extensively used in the West against heavily armed opponents and hostage crises.
In addition to plans for vehicle-mounted tear gas, his force has set up five exclusive law and order battalions to deal with protestors in the state, reports reaching Kashmir Observer said.
The other items on the state’s shopping list are body protectors, polycarbonate shields, polycarbonate lathis, helmets and visors, bullet proof bunkers, pump action guns, water cannon, anti-riot rifles, rubber pellets and plastic pellets.
Given the size of the state police force, perhaps the biggest employer in Jammu and Kashmir, and the scale violent disturbance can assume in the valley, the gear is a virtual windfall for suppliers – the only tangible effect of the past three years of violent agitation in the valley that left hundreds dead.
Following protests in downtown Srinagar over the ill-health effects of “pepper guns,” the police chief claimed that non-lethal mob control by his force had led to “zero loss of life” in Kashmir’s street violence this year.
Police and paramilitary forces deployed in Kashmir have ostensibly been trained in new techniques to deal with protests after targeted firing in the streets left hundreds dead and several times more grievously injured in the now-forgotten three hot valley summers since 2008 – with over 118 civilian fatalities last year alone.
According to reports from the winter capital, the DGP said that dyed water cannon and dye-maker grenades had dampened the spirits of downtown stone-pelters as the hard-to-wash colour on their body kept trouble-makers indoors for two to three days and more out of fear of being identified by the police.
Police and paramilitary personnel had also used Oliristen grenades, which emit irritant gas with pungent smell, modified plastic body tear smoke shells, and dye-maker grenades on protestors in Srinagar which, the police chief said, had proved “very effective” in controlling crowds and ensuring zero-fatalities, besides keeping injuries down.