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Amnesty launches online, postcard campaign for ban on pellets in Kashmir

January 17, 2018

Srinagar, Jan 16: Amnesty International India (AII) has launched a ‘postcard and online campaign’ against the use of pellet guns in Kashmir.
The human rights organization Tuesday announced that it launched postcard campaign and petition, urging J&K government to ban pellet-firing shotguns.
“Government shall also provide reparation to those affected, and set up independent investigations into cases of deaths or serious injuries,” a spokesperson of the AII, said.
It has decided to submit signed postcards and petition to Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti.
“The campaign aims to bring people from across Jammu and Kashmir to write postcards to Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti,” the spokesperson said.
“Pellet-firing pump-action shotguns have been responsible for killing, blinding and injuring thousands of people in Kashmir,” the spokesperson said.
AII Executive Director, Aakar Patel, claimed that it was “shameful” that the serious concerns raised repeatedly regarding the use of pellet-firing guns have failed to receive “sufficient attention” from the state government.
“The use of pellet shotguns is inherently inaccurate and indiscriminate. These so called non-lethal weapons have killed at least 14 people since July 2016,” he said. “Thousands more have suffered extensive and debilitating physical and psychological harm. It is unconscionable for authorities to continue using pellet-firing shotguns despite being aware of the damage they cause,” he added.
Campaigner AII, Zahoor Wani said that they want to send a message to the JK government through the campaign that people of Kashmir want an “immediate end” to the use of pellet-firing shotguns. “The voices of the victims and those who stand in solidarity with them must be heard,” Wani said.
The AII said that use of pellet shotguns in Kashmir “violates” international standards on the use of force.
“The UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials states that law enforcement officials may use force only when strictly necessary and to the extent required for the performance of their duty. The UN Basic Principles on the ‘Use of Force and Firearms’ states that force should only be used when unavoidable, and law enforcement officials should exercise restraint in using force and minimize damage and injury,” it said.
The state government admitted recently in the state legislative assembly that 6,221 persons had received pellet shotgun injuries, including 782 eye injuries, between July 2016 and February 2017.
In September 2017, the human rights released a report, “Losing Sight in Kashmir: The Impact of Pellet-Firing Shotguns”, which documented cases of 88 people whose eyesight was either temporarily or permanently damaged by metal pellets fired by security forces between 2014 and 2017.
AII also obtained information, which suggests that at least 16 Jammu and Kashmir Armed Police personnel suffered pellet injuries in 2016.
AII had also demanded that state government should 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.

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