Amnesty warns against use of PAVA shells

Amnesty warns against use of PAVA shells

Amnesty warns against use of PAVA shells

Amnesty International India on Monday cautioned against the use of PAVA shells, a "chemical irritant" weapon that replaced pellet guns, in Kashmir due to its potential to be used in an “arbitrary or indiscriminate” manner.

Accusing the government of “violating” global standards of use of force in Kashmir, the group said that “continued abusive” use of pellet guns along with the deployment of PAVA shells is “extremely worrying”.

In a statement, Amnesty said the security forces were “using arbitrary and excessive” force in response to protests in Jammu and Kashmir, “worsening” the human rights crisis in the state. With the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) clearing the use of PAVA shells, Amnesty said these shells are a type of “chemical irritant” weapon designed to temporarily deter or disable individuals by producing temporary sensory irritation of the eyes and upper respiratory tract.

The statement also referred to the remarks of the Resident Doctors Association (RDA) of Shri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital, the “largest” government hospital in Srinagar, and associated hospitals.

The RDA has expressed “concern” over the use of PAVA shells, which they say can cause injuries to the eye, lung and skin.

“Chemical irritants have the potential to be used in an arbitrary or indiscriminate manner. Before being deployed, these weapons should go through a rigorous safety, testing and approvals process,” Amnesty International India’s executive director Aakar Patel said in a statement.

“The concentration of chemical irritants should be as low as possible to ensure that they do not cause unnecessary harm, and to restrict the impact to the people targeted. The use must be carefully measured, targeted and controlled, and should take into account factors such as the proximity of schools or hospitals,” Amnesty stated.

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