No let-up in stone-throwing in Kashmir Valley

In the 10 days since the all-party delegation returned from Kashmir, more than 300 incidents of stone throwing and other violent protests have been reported in the Valley, the latest data available with the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) shows.

A delegation of 28 Members of Parliament led by Home Minister Rajnath Singh visited the Valley on September 5-6 to seek an end to the turbulence there. In all, over 1,200 incidents of stone throwing were reported in the Valley since Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was killed in an encounter on July 8.

Apart from pellet guns and tear smoke shells, security forces are firing blank rounds to contain the protesters. Data with The Hindu show that over 1,100 empty rounds have also been fired as warning shots to deter the crowd. An official said a blank round makes a flash and an explosive sound and is non-lethal.

CRPF DG K. Durga Prasad said the overall situation in the Valley was improving.

An official said the Pelargonic Acid Vanillyl Amide (PAVA) shells, which was recommended by an expert committee as an alternative to pellet guns, has been in use since July 17 but has failed to give results.

“We first used PAVA shells on July 17 and after that we were sent a fresh stock last month. Nothing seems to work against the protesters. We are facing maximum attacks in the rural areas,” said a CRPF official.

A Home Ministry official said: “The security forces are exhausted. They are putting in 14-16 hours everyday with barely any time for rest.”

The official said at least 117 CRPF camps had come under attack so far and there had been more than 40 instances when petrol and acid were thrown at patrolling parties.