SRINAGAR: Amnesty International India demanded that use of pellet-firing shotguns, which have been responsible for blinding, killing and traumatizing hundreds of people in Kashmir by the government forces, should be banned immediately.
The rights organization released a report on Wednesday in Srinagar, ‘Loosing Sight in Kashmir: The impact of pellet firing shotgun’. The report documents cases of 88 people whose eyesight was damaged by the pellets fired by J&K police and CRPF between 2014 and 2017.
Aakar Patel, Executive Director at Amnesty International India said, “In his Independence Day speech, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that change in Kashmir will not come from guns or abuses – na goli, na gali. If the government truly means this, they must end the use of pellet-firing shotguns, which have caused immense suffering in Kashmir”.
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“In some cases, those injured by pellet-firing shotguns still have the metal pellets lodged in their skulls, near their eyes. Doctors have been afraid to remove the pellets, fearing that it will affect eyesight, but they are not sure what the long-term effects will be,” said Zahoor Wani, Senior Campaigner at Amnesty International India.
One of the pellet victims Sabrooza Mir, narrated her ordeal saying, “I was not protesting and was hit by pellets inside my house. And I could no longer study or even look at my books. I even forget things every now and then.”
The AI report also reads, “J&K government should also initiate prompt, independent and impartial civilian investigations into all incidents where the use of pellet-firing shotguns led to deaths or injuries to establish whether arbitrary or excessive force was used, and where sufficient evidence is found, prosecute those suspected of responsibility in civilian courts”.
Amnesty International India representatives reiterated the demand that pellet firing shotguns should be banned immediately and ensure that the use of all other weapons is in line with international human rights standards on use of force.
Amnesty International India also obtained information through Right to Information applications which suggests that the use of the inherently inaccurate pellet-firing shotguns by security forces has injured other security force personnel. At least 16 personnel from the Jammu and Kashmir Armed Police were treated for pellet injuries in Kupwara in 2016. Amnesty International India claimed that they wrote to the JKP and CRPF for further information, but no responses were received.