Army will use sound to disperse stone-pelters
Security personnel who often face off with stone-pelters and civilians during crucial anti-terror operations in Kashmir will no longer depend on pellet guns to disperse the human obstacles. The Ministry of Home Affairs has approved the use of ‘sound cannon’, devices that can emit pain-inducing sound waves, on rampaging mobs in the Valley. The move follows criticism of pellet guns that have left several people with eye injuries.
Known as Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD), the sonic weapon was used for the first time in Pittsburgh, US, to control an agitated crowd during a G20 summit in 2009.”It is much needed. During an encounter with terrorists, locals start pelting stones at the forces. LRAD will help us immediately disperse the crowd and also take terrorists off guard, giving a strategic edge to our forces in action,” a senior IPS officer told DNA.
The use of LRAD has been criticised world over as the sound can cause pain in humans and permanently damage hearing. Official sources said the ministry is clear that the warning tone won’t cross the human threshold of pain and that the forces should be able to control its intensity.
The ministry has directed the Central Armed Police Forces to start the process of procuring LRADs while stressing the need for development and manufacture of the ‘sound cannons’ in the country.
In an internal note, the government has said, “The manufacturers must mention the threshold impact of equipment output on human ears and have to have certification from Indian and medical organisations.”
The ministry has sought detailed information about the equipment from the manufacturers. The note read, “Previous implementation of the subject project in other sectors may also be brought out to ascertain the credibility of the product.”
Going by its experience with pellet guns, sources said the government has been careful about drawing unwanted attention in its mob management efforts in the restive Valley. It has also sought details about “normal threshold of pain for children” considering the use of kids as shields by protesters in Kashmir.
While security forces in the Valley have been using pellet shotguns to police protests since 2010, it has left scores of people injured. According to Amnesty International, pellet guns have so far killed 14 people in Kashmir.
Pellet guns are pump-action shotguns which fire a cluster of small, round, metal pellets with high velocity over a wide area. A pellet shotgun cartridge can contain up to 630 pellets. Once shot, the cartridge explodes and the pellets disperse in all directions, hitting everyone in their path. Pellet guns are, however, less lethal than bullets but can cause serious injuries, especially if they hit the eye.
- 162 dB – Max continuous volume of sound cannon
- 130 dB – Usual threshold of pain
- 110 dB – Sutli bomb
- 60 dB – Normal conversation