Srinagar, Sep 12 (IANS) Human rights watchdog Amnesty international on Monday blamed India for excessive use of force against protesters in Kashmir.
Executive Director of Amnesty International India, Aakar Patel, in a statement issued here, said: “Security forces are using arbitrary and excessive force in response to protests in Jammu and Kashmir.”
He added, “India is violating international standards and worsening the human rights crisis in the state.”
Aakar said: “Pellet-firing shotguns have injured and blinded even peaceful protesters and bystanders. Children have been hit by pellets from these shotguns while sitting inside their homes.”
The statement quoted media reports of September 2, saying, “India’s Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) approved the use of PAVA (Pelargonic Acid Vanillyl Amide) shells — a chilli-based munition — as an alternative to pellet-firing shotguns, to be used only in ‘rare’ cases.”
“However, there have been over 100 reported cases of pellet injuries in the first week of September at hospitals in Srinagar,” it stated.
The statement said that the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms state that firearms should not be used “except in self-defence or defence of others against the imminent threat of death or serious injury”.
It said the UN charter clarifies the use of firearms “only when less extreme means are insufficient”. The UN Code of Conduct for law enforcement officials states that they may use force “only when strictly necessary and to the extent required for the performance of their duty”.
“At least 78 people, including two security force personnel, have been killed in the state since July 9, following protests and violent clashes after the killing of a member of the Hizbul Mujahideen armed group,” the Amnesty India statement also said.
“Some demonstrators have thrown stones and attacked police stations, government buildings and politicians’ homes.”
“Security force personnel have fired live ammunition, tear gas and pellets from pump-action-shotguns.”
“These weapons are inherently indiscriminate and always carry the risk of causing serious injury to people who are not engaging in violence… There is simply no proper way to use these weapons, and they should be prohibited.”
About the use of PAVA shells for crowd control, the statement said, “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 approval process.”
It also stressed on training of security forces “to use them correctly to reduce risk of unnecessary injury, and they must be accompanied by clear instructions and warnings on their use, effects, risks and the necessary precautions to be taken”.
Amnesty said: “Law enforcement officials in Jammu and Kashmir must only use force as a last resort after non-violent means have been ineffective, and ensure that any force used is both necessary and proportional.”
It said, “Anyone suspected of using arbitrary or abusive force should be prosecuted.”
Calling on the central and state governments to “abandon their heavy-handed tactics in Kashmir”, Amnesty India’s statement adds that nowhere else in India have either the pellet shotguns or PAVA shells been used by the security forces for crowd control.