A study to develop effective non-lethal weapons for dealing with public agitation and modifying the existing police procedures for crowd control has been commissioned by the government.

An increasing number of instances of people being killed during the police action to control agitations in various states have led to the study being authorised by the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD), a department under the Union Home Ministry.

The study will look into development of best practices in the subject and will be carried out by a Gurgaon-based private organisation, an official said.

A report is expected to be submitted by October this year to the BPRD, which it will subsequently submit to the Ministry.

“The study has been constituted with the basic aim that all police forces should deal with the agitators with minimum force resulting in least casualty. The recommendations of the study will be submitted to the Union Home Ministry and subsequently circulated amongst all the states,” the official said.

The study has been initiated on the directions of BPRD Director General K N Sharma, whose department is the nodal agency for bringing in the best practices and technology in matters related to functioning of police and security forces.

“The study aims at identifying non-lethal weapons/ munitions being used by various police forces in the country, shortfalls in current equipment, reasons and solutions with a specific focus on primary research. The efficacy of equipment in the field would be studied and the need assessment of various non-lethal weapons (NLWs) to be inducted in various states would be carried out,” the official said.

BPRD, in its terms for the study, said, “Problems faced by the police forces in controlling agitation would be evaluated to propose solutions.”

“Various operational scenarios would be studied, analysed and simulated for the implementation of effective NLWs. The project also involves suggesting technical improvements and demonstration trials of at least one technology that would be suited to the Indian scenario,” it said.

The exercise will also provide suggestions for modifications in the existing protocols and will also examine the police psychology across the country while dealing with various types of crowds.

The team of researchers, which will include serving police officials, will also test the efficacy of various equipments used at present by police forces, need for other equipments to be inducted in the forces and evaluation of problems faced by the state police units in controlling agitations, the official said.

“It is also planned to study new non-lethal equipments available in the market and their efficacy and the study also aims to devise fresh standard operating procedures for crowd control,” he said.

The research unit comprises experts and officials from the Defence Research and Development Organisation, the elite Tear Smoke Unit of Border Security Force based in Tekanpur in Madhya Pradesh and senior police officials from various states as representatives.

(This article was published on August 7, 2012)
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