In less than a month after approving the use of "chilli-based" shells to disperse angry protesters in Kashmir, the NDA government is looking for new alternatives for crowd-control. According to on-field assessments, the chilli-based shells, also known as PAVA, react too slowly to be effective in crowd-control, and the ministry of home affairs has decided to recall them.
"Officials said the security forces in Jammu and Kashmir particularly Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), have provided an on-ground assessment stating the 'chilli-based' shells were not able to fully deter the protesting crowds. They said the self-melting canisters of the shells were taking time as a result of which the crowds were able to throw them back at the forces in quick time," reported PTI.
"The effectiveness of the shells' chilli fumes after exploding also need to be enhanced," it added.
The PAVA shells were introduced on the suggestions of a Committee of Experts, formed by the Ministry of Home Affairs, after the Modi government received reports of blindings and grievous injuries caused due to the use of pellet guns, in Kashmir.
According to The Times of India, the shells were developed by Indian Institute of Toxicology Research, a Council of Scientific & Industrial Research laboratory in Lucknow.
PAVA or Pelargonic Acid Vanillyl Amide, is an organic compound found in natural chilli pepper. Also known as Nonivamide, Pava is used as a food additive as well to add pungency to seasonings and spice blends. On the Scoville scale — which is a measurement of the pungency of chillies — PAVA is categorised as "above peak". It is categorised as less-lethal munition category and once fired, the shells burst out to temporarily stun, immobilise and paralyse the target (protesters) in a more effective way than a tear gas shell or pepper sprays.
Meanwhile, the ministry has decided to recall the shells to "rectify the problems pointed out before they are again given to Jammu and Kashmir police and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF)", said The Times of India report.
The Border Security Force's Tear Smoke Unit (TSU) based in Gwalior, has been asked to fix these anomalies and send the fresh lot after reconfiguring the shells, it added.
According to DNA, the TSU has been asked to improvise the PAVA shells by speeding up the release of smoke from the shells as well as bring down the velocity of the projectile so that it does not cause grievous injury to the protestors.
With inputs from agencies