Amnesty International calls for immediate ban on pellet guns in IHK
SRINAGAR (92 News) – Pellet-firing shotguns, which have been responsible for blinding, killing and traumatizing hundreds of people in Indian Held Kashmir, must be immediately banned, Amnesty International reiterated in a news briefing, “Losing Sight in Kashmir: The Impact of Pellet-Firing Shotguns”.
The briefing presented the cases of 88 people whose eyesight was damaged by metal pellets fired from pump-action shotguns between 2014 and 2017.
“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,” said Aakar Patel, Executive Director at Amnesty International India.
“Authorities claim the pellet shotgun is not lethal, but the injuries and deaths caused by this cruel weapon bear testimony to how dangerous, inaccurate and indiscriminate it is. There is no proper way to use pellet-firing shotguns. It is irresponsible of authorities to continue the use of these shotguns despite being aware of the damage they do.”
People injured by pellet-firing shotguns have faced serious physical and mental health issues, including symptoms of psychological trauma. School and university students who were hit in the eyes said that they continue to have learning difficulties. Several victims who were the primary breadwinners for their families fear they will not be able to work any longer. Many have not regained their eyesight despite repeated surgeries.
Security forces have used metal pellet-firing shotguns against protesters in the Occupied Kashmir since at least 2010. The shotguns fire a large number of small pellets spreading over a wide range. There is no way to control the trajectory or direction of the pellets, whose effects are therefore indiscriminate. By their very nature, the weapons have a high risk of causing serious and permanent injuries to the persons targeted as well as to others. These risks are virtually impossible to control.
Pellet shotguns and the manner in which they have been used in Occupied Kashmir violate international standards on the use of force, which states that law enforcement officials may use force “only when strictly necessary and to the extent required for the performance of their duty”.