New Delhi, Sep 13 (IANS) Amnesty International on Wednesday urged the Centre and Jammu and Kashmir government to immediately ban pellet-firing shotguns in the Kashmir Valley as it has been responsible for blinding and traumatising hundreds of people.
In a briefing here themed ‘Losing Sight in Kashmir: The Impact of Pellet-Firing Shotguns’, the international human rights organisation called the government irresponsible as authorities continue the use of pellet shotguns despite being aware of the damage they do.
Stating that even Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his Independence Day speech said that change in Kashmir will not come from guns or abuses, Amnesty said that if the government truly meant this, they must end the use of pellet-firing shotguns, which have caused immense suffering in Kashmir.
“Authorities claim the pellet shotgun is not lethal, but the injuries and deaths caused by this cruel weapon bear testimony to how dangerous, inaccurate and indiscriminate it is,” said Aakar Patel, Executive Director at Amnesty International India.
During the briefing, Amnesty presented 88 cases where the victims had lost their eyesight due to the metal pellets fired from pump-action shotguns used by the Jammu and Kashmir Police and Central Reserve Police Force between 2014 and 2017.
According to the global body, people injured by pellet guns have faced serious physical and mental health issues, including symptoms of psychological trauma.
School and university students who were hit in the eyes said that they continue to have learning difficulties. Several victims who were the primary breadwinners for their families fear they will not be able to work any longer. Many have not regained their eyesight despite repeated surgeries.
“In some cases, those injured by pellet guns still have the metal pellets lodged in their skulls. Doctors have been afraid to remove the pellets, fearing that it will affect eyesight, but they are not sure what the long-term effects will be,” said Zahoor Wani, Senior Campaigner at Amnesty International India.
Wani said the state government has done little to support those injured and disabled by this weapon.
Amnesty International has also urged the state to initiate prompt, independent and impartial civilian investigations into all incidents where the use of pellet-firing shotguns led to deaths or injuries.
This investigation will establish if arbitrary or excessive force was used, and if sufficient evidence is found then prosecute those suspected of responsibility in civilian courts.