Amnesty International Exposes India Over the Use of Pellet Guns in Kashmir

Amnesty International India released its report earlier this week, titled as “Losing Sight in Kashmir“, exposing the extent of Indian atrocities in the Indian Occupied Kashmir.

The report calls upon India to immediately ban  the Pellet-firing shotguns, which have been responsible for blinding, killing and traumatizing hundreds of people in Kashmir.

Despite that Narendra Modi said in his independence day speech that Bullets and abuses will not bring any change in Kashmir (Na goli, na gaali) and the plain denial of the Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh that pellet guns are not used in Kashmir at all, this report totally turned the tables.

The 109 pages report discuses 88 cases of victims who were shot by pellet guns during 2014 to 2017. Although the real number of affected is much higher, but these are only the cases that Amnesty International interviewed.

Of the 88 people named in the report, 31 suffered injuries in both eyes, with two of them losing their vision completely. The injured included 14 women who were allegedly inside their homes and not part of any protest.

However, what is more surprising is that 16 of the Jammu and Kashmir Armed Police personnel were also treated for pallet guns related injuries in 2016. It describes how blindly these weapons were used.

The report went viral on the Kashmiri media, where all the top ranked newspapers published the story on the front page.

In an interview to Kashmir Life, Aakar Patel, the Director of Amnesty International India said that in no manner the use of pallet guns can be justified, even against a stone pelting mob. He also asserted that the pellet guns are no where in use in the mainland India and it is only Kashmir where such atrocities are taking place for long. He also pointed out that Amnesty International has filed various FIRs against the Indian security forces but none has ever been took up.

The report concludes that the use of such weapons is not in line with the International Human Rights standards and they should be IMMEDIATELY BANNED. Moreover, the victims should be given medical and monetary relief whereby the culprits of such acts should be brought to justice by launching a civilian inquiry on the matter.

Beyond the Report

As the herald of the release of this report by Amnesty International India was on the loose, the Home Minister of India quickly embarked on a 4 day visit to the Kashmir Valley, ending on 12 September.

In his speech at Shri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS), he acknowledged that the weapon was used ‘sparingly’. To this comment of his, he was bombarded by questions of an Opthalmic Surgeon (eye surgeon) at the hospital.

“All those who were hit by pellets in their eyes have been rendered visually impaired. You can’t hide behind a jargon and talk about the percentage of vision lost. This doesn’t make sense. Also the concern is the long term impact of the injury on a person who has been handicapped for entire life,” said the senior surgeon.

As per the records at Srinagar’s Shri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) hospital, since July 2016, at least 1209 persons with pellet injuries in one or both eyes have been treated there. Of them, 77 have had both eyes severely damaged while 21 have lost sight in one eye. Besides those blinded, the indiscriminate use of pellet guns have led to the deaths of 16 people and injured 7,000 others.

The Stir in the Social Media

There were mixed reactions on the social media, clearly some of the Pro-Government people of India came up with derogatory remarks

The Pro-Indian Responses

Supporting Amnesty International

Though, there was a huge stir in the social media about the issue and people mostly sided with Amnesty International. We just caught a few tweets here, while there are loads and loads of them.

Please let us know about your opinion on the use of pellet guns in Kashmir by Indian Armed Forces in the comments below

 

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