New Delhi, Oct 7: Amid mounting criticism over the use of pellet guns for crowd control in Kashmir, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) has decided to replace the metal bullets with the less lethal plastic bullets.

21,000 rounds of the new plastic bullets has been sent to the Valley, said CRPF Director General (DG) RR Bhatnagar. The bullets, which would replace the metal pellets, were developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and manufactured by the Pune-based Ordnance factory.

The bullets, Bhatnagar said, are compatible with the AK series assault rifles. The forces deployed for riot control measures could easily switch to the less lethal plastic pellets by changing the round of bullets, he added.

“Tests have shown that these plastic bullets are less lethal. This will reduce our dependence on pellet guns and other non-lethal weapons used for crowd control,” the CRPG DG said, while speaking to news agency PTI.

“About 21,000 rounds have just been sent for distribution to all our units,” he further added.

The supply of plastic bullets for use in the Valley comes months after the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) called for the introduction of chilli-based PAVA shells, which could replace the mettle pellets. The chilli-based guns were expected to be a non-fatal remedy for crowd-controlling measure.

According to Bhatnagar, the forces could also look for other non-lethal weapons, including the pump action guns fitted with metal deflectors, which would ensure that pellets injuries are not caused above the waist.

“Even our specialised anti-riot unit RAF can use it at some point of time to render their duties. We will see how to go about it in the future,” the DG added.

The use of incumbent pellet guns in Kashmir came under severe criticism from the Opposition parties, along with the human rights’ groups. The pellets caused high number of injuries last winter, as it was widely used by the forces to control the unrest following the killing of militant Burhan Wani.

According to reports, nearly 100 civilians were killed in the 2016 uprising, whereas, more than 1,100 were left at least partially blinded.