Amnesty launches campaign to ban pellets in Kashmir

Amnesty launches campaign to ban pellets in Kashmir

Amnesty launches campaign to ban pellets in Kashmir

Amnesty International India has launched a postcard campaign and an online petition to ban the use of pellet guns in Kashmir.

The organisation, which  stands for human rights activism,  has decided to submit the signed postcards and petition to Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti.

Amnesty  spokesperson Smriti Singh said the postcards and petition will urge  the state government to ban pellet-firing shotguns, provide reparation to those affected and set up independent investigations into cases of deaths or serious injuries.

Aakar Patel, executive director of  Amnesty International India,  said pellet shotguns  are inherently inaccurate and indiscriminate.

"These so-called 'non-lethal' weapons killed at least 14 people since July 2016. 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 said.

The state government recently admitted in the Legislative Assembly that 6,221  people had received pellet injuries  - including 782 eye injuries  - between July 2016 and February 2017.

In September 2017,  Amnesty released a briefing called "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.

Despite Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh approving the use of chilli-based PAVA shells as an alternative to pellet guns in September 2016 for crowd-control measures in Kashmir, the pellets continue to kill  and maim people in the Valley.

Pellet guns were introduced as a "non-lethal" alternative after the 2010 Kashmir unrest, when more than 100 people died as stone-pelting mobs took to the streets.

Doctors and other stakeholders in the recent past have expressed shock over the magnitude of injuries caused by pellet guns, especially to the eyes.

However, the use of the "non-lethal" weapon has continued to maim victims.