Pellet guns kill

Published at September 14, 2017 12:20 AM 0Comment(s)28551views

Pellet guns kill

Amnesty International’s (AI) report on the use of pellet guns by government forces, titled “Sight in Kashmir: The Impact of Pellet-Firing Shotguns” has rekindled the hope of seeing an end to their use as a crowd control measure. The report presents a grim picture of the rampant use of pellet-firing shotguns that were extensively used last year during the 2016 unrest. The report says that pellet-firing shotguns used by government forces in Kashmir are responsible for blinding, killing and traumatizing hundreds of people in Kashmir. That leaves little doubt about the lethality of these weapons. The human rights’ watchdog has further recommended the state government to initiate civilian investigations into all incidents where the use of these weapons led to deaths and injuries. The Ai Indian chapter has called on the governments to stop the use of these weapons immediately. Earlier, Supreme Court expressed the concern on the use of pellet guns as a means to quell street protests in Kashmir. The court asked the Government of India to consider alternatives, but to no avail. Home Minister (Union) Rajnath Singh on one of his visits assured that the alternative will be found shortly. Reportedly, the Ministry of Home Affairs had given its consent on the withdrawal of the pellet guns. However, some reports published in the past suggest that the forces and the ministry were not on the same page on banning the pellet guns. The recent AI report as well as the observations made in the past shed enough light on the two main issues with the use of pellet guns by government forces. One is that the weapon be classified as lethal, which is also evident from the casualties recorded in 2016. Using a lethal weapon on civilians is abominable, no matter how the armed forces put up their versions of the ground situation. The second issue is that of the indiscriminate use of pellet-firing shotguns. Many tragic stories of 2016 unfurl a rather sinister episode in which the victims were not only the stone-pelters but also those vulnerable boys and girls who fell in its vicious range. The governments cannot turn a blind-eye to the brutalities unleashed with the indiscriminate use of pellet-firing guns. A report published in The Indian Express in August 2016 said that from July 8 to August 11, 1.6 million pellets were fired upon the protestors. If that does not qualify for their indiscriminate use, then what really does? The armed forces have been made aware about the lethality of the pellet-firing shotguns, has been aware about the casualty rate, yet it resisted all such moves to ban the guns. That calls for civilian investigation the scope of which should be extended to those giving the orders to shoot.                        



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