Avoid pellet guns in Kashmir, Rajnath tells security forces

The union government has asked security forces to exercise restraint in responding to protests in Kashmir and replace pellet guns with non-lethal weapons, home Affairs minister Rajnath Singh said on Sunday.

Forty-six people have been killed and more than 5,000 wounded, including security forces, since protests erupted after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani on 8 July.

Normal life remains paralysed because of the curfew imposed by the government and calls for a shut down by separatist leaders.

"I appeal to the youth not to resort to stone pelting and I also want to appeal to the security forces not to use pellets. I have told security forces to use maximum possible restraint," Rajnath Singh said, winding up his two-day visit to Kashmir.

Kashmir has been at the centre of a tussle between New Delhi and Islamabad for decades, as both claim the region in full but rule it in part.

"We don't need the involvement of a third party to address the situation in Jammu and Kashmir. I want to tell my neighbour that you are yourself a victim of terrorism," said Singh.

Singh on Thursday told lawmakers that India would set up a panel to look for an alternative to pellet guns.

More than 300 people have suffered because of pellet guns, including 171 with eye injuries, Kaisar Ahmad, principal of the Government Medical College in Srinagar, told Reuters.