Amnesty International has urged Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to raise the use of “indiscriminate pellet-firing shotguns” in Kashmir during his visit to India.
The rights group in an open letter has said that “security forces in Jammu and Kashmir have been using pellet firing shotguns to police protests in the Kashmir valley since at least 2010.”
“These weapons have killed, blinded and injured thousands of people In January this year, the Jammu and Kashmir state government admitted in the state legislative assembly that 6,221 persons received pellet gun injuries, including 782 eye injuries, between July 2016 and February 2017. The actual figures are likely to be even higher,” the letter says.
People injured by pellet firing shotguns have faced serious physical and mental health issues, including symptoms of psychological trauma, Amnesty has said, adding 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. These shotguns fire a large number of small pellets spreading over a wide range. There is no way to control the trajectory or direction of the pellets, whose effects are therefore indiscriminate. By their very nature, the weapons have a high risk of causing serious and permanent injuries to the persons targeted as well as to others. These risks are virtually impossible to control.”
The rights group said the use of pellet shotguns in Kashmir violates international standards on the use of force and urged Canadian premier to call on Prime Minister Modi to “immediately ban the use of pellet firing shotguns as a means of policing protests, and work with the state government of Jammu and Kashmir to set up independent investigations into cases of deaths or serious injuries caused by pellet firing shotguns.”
Other issues mentioned in the letter to Trudeau include possible forced mass expulsion of Rohingya people from India, justice and accountability for 1984 Sikh massacre, demonisation of religious minorities, and for criminalisation of marital rape.
In a separate letter to Modi, Amnesty has urged him to raise issues like developing a National Action Plan on Gender-Based Violence in Canada, issues of indigenous groups like First Nations, Metis, and Inuit people among others.