Pellet guns are generally used to defend land or property from wild animals of all shapes and sizes, from rabbits to deer. When shot, hundreds of small lead projectiles are launched at high speed toward the target, causing hundreds of tiny wounds, enough to send the animal running.
The same deterrent technology has been introduced since 2010 in the state of Kashmir, alongside batons and tear gas. This combination of crowd control measures, judged “non-lethal,” has been used by the Jammu Kashmir police force and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF, the Indian federal police, with a massive presence all around Kashmir on orders from New Delhi) to disperse protests against what the majority of Kashmiris consider a military occupation, as well as separatist gatherings.
This is the official version of the authorities, anyway. They claim to be scrupulous in limiting the use of pellet guns exclusively to street situations where popular protests include throwing rocks at the police, a custom which can be seen, for example, every Friday afternoon on the avenues in front of the Jama Masjid of Srinagar, the largest mosque in the state, after the religious-political sermon by the Kashmiri imam and separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq.