AI launches drive, online petition for ban on pellet guns in IOK

New Delhi, January 17, 2018 (PPI-OT):International human rights watchdog, Amnesty International, has launched a postcard campaign and an online petition to press for the ban on the use of pellet gun in occupied Kashmir. The drive is meant to put pressure on India to conduct an independent investigation into cases of killings and serious injuries caused by the pellets. The Amnesty will submit signed postcards and petition to the puppet Chief Minister of occupied Kashmir, Mehbooba Mufti.

“Pellet-firing pump-action shotguns have been responsible for killing, blinding and injuring thousands of people in Kashmir,” said Amnesty International India, as it launched the campaign and online petition seeking a ban on the use of the shotguns. The campaign aims to bring people from across Jammu and Kashmir to write postcards to Mehbooba Mufti.

“It is shameful that the serious concerns raised repeatedly regarding the use of pellet-firing guns have failed to receive sufficient attention from the government,” said Aakar Patel, Executive Director, Amnesty International India.

“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. 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.”

“Through this campaign, we want to send a message ….that the 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,” said Zahoor Wani, Campaigner, Amnesty International India.

The puppet administration recently admitted in the so-called Kashmir Assembly that 6,221 people had received pellet shotgun injuries, including 782 eye injuries, between July 2016 and February 2017. However, the human rights groups say the number of pellet injured people is much higher than the admitted by the puppet regime.

In September 2017, Amnesty International India released a briefing, “Losing Sight in Kashmir: The Impact of Pellet-Firing Shotguns”, which documented the cases of pellet victims. The Amnesty says that the troops have used metal pellet-firing shotguns for crowd control in occupied Kashmir since 2010. When pellet shotguns are fired, a large number of small metal pellets spread indiscriminately over a wide area. There is no way to control the accuracy, trajectory or direction of the pellets. Due to their inherently inaccurate and indiscriminate nature, the weapons have a high risk of causing serious and permanent injury to everyone in the area.

The Amnesty says the use of pellet shotguns in occupied 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”.

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