Rights group urges Canadian PM to press Modi for pellet gun ban in Kashmir

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.

(Modi and Trudeau at a meeting in Davos last month)

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