‘Kill, maim and blind’: Armed forces in JK ‘defy international norms’, says Human Rights Watch

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In the aftermath of the intense pellet firing on a Muharram procession in Srinagar last week, causing injuries to more than 30 people, Global watchdog Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said that Indian armed forces in Kashmir are “maiming, blinding, and killing people”, citing the continuation of’ defying international norms’ by using pellet guns as a means of crowd control.

In a statement to Anadulo Agency – a Turkey based portal, Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at HRW said: “time and again, Indian law enforcement’s use of [pellet] shotguns in Kashmir has resulted in shocking, grievous injuries of protesters and bystanders.”

“The weapon causes indiscriminate and excessive injury and violates international standards and laws such as the UN’s Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms. Indian leaders who claim that their policies are improving the lives of Kashmiris cannot disregard that security forces are maiming, blinding, and killing people,” the statement added.

HRW said that in the decade since Indian authorities first deployed them in the region, “pellets fired from shotguns have lead to thousands of injuries, including loss of eyesight. International law bars any use of force, including against violent protesters, that causes indiscriminate or unnecessary harm,” the HRW mentioned.

Quoting figures sourced from data journalism website IndiaSpend, HRW said pellets blinded 139 Kashmiris between July 2016 and February 2019.

“Over 6,200 people, according to the statement, were wounded by pellets – 782 with eye injuries – between July 2016 and February 2017, according to Mehbooba Mufti, former chief minister of JK.”

The Indian government should cease the use of shotguns firing metal pellets and review its crowd control techniques to meet international standards,” the statement concluded.

Earlier in the week, Police resorted to firing pellets tear-gas shelling on Muharram precession injuring more than 30 mourners, mostly of them badly hit and may not be able to gain the eyesight again.

Besides this, two persons were also arrested and charged under UAPA case by police for allegedly raising pro-Azadi slogans during a Muharram Procession in outskirts of Srinagar on August 26.


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