Stop using pellet guns in J&K, Amnesty tells govt

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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.

The report comes just two days after Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh admitted in Srinagar that Pelargonic Acid Vanillyl Amide (PAVA) guns introduced to replace pellet shotguns had "failed to yield desired results".

"Authorities have a duty to maintain public order, but using pellet shotguns is not the solution", Patel said.

"In some cases, those injured by pellet guns still have the metal pellets lodged in their skulls".

The report said that school-going boys and girls in Kashmir had lost vision in one or the both eyes and had difficulty reading, playing with their friends or watching television while college students had to give up their dreams of pursuing higher education.

Aakar Patel, Executive Director at Amnesty International, said that shotguns have been responsible for "blinding, killings and traumatising" hundreds of people in Kashmir.

"Young men and primary breadwinners of families say they can not earn a living anymore, and that they are a liability for their families", the report said.

Although shotguns have been in use in Kashmir since 2010, government forces fired them widely during months of civilian protests against Indian rule in 2016 after Indian forces killed a popular militant leader. "The AI India has raised the issue with the SHRC", he said.

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The report also highlights the cases of many victims who did not regain their eyesight despite repeated surgeries.

"Doctors are afraid to remove the pellets fearing it will affect the eyesight but they are not sure what the long term effects will be", Mr. Wani said. "Many others show symptoms of psychological trauma, and all of them face every day struggles of dealing with the darkness that has descended on their lives, of having to let go of small pleasures, and of preparing for hard futures".

He said the pellet guns are only used in Jammu and Kashmir and not at any place in mainland India.

However, Abdullah withdrew his tweets after deaths were reported in the violence. "Pellet guns? Do the forces keep those only for protesting Kashmiris?" "This weapon has only been reserved for Kashmiris", he said.

"In his Independence Day speech, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that change in Kashmir will not come from guns or abuses -nagoli, nagali. Government understands that the damage caused by the pellets is disproportionate".

The stories of 88 individuals whose eyesight was damaged by the use of metal pellets have been chronicled in a news briefing titled "Losing Sight in Kashmir: The Impact of Pellet-Firing Shotguns" by Amnesty International India who launched its 'BAN PELLET SHOTGUNS!' campaign on Wednesday.

Patel said that Amnesty has been working on Kashmir for long.

At least 16 personnel from the Jammu and Kashmir Armed Police were treated for pellet injuries in border district of Kupwara in 2016, the report said adding the group had sought further information from J&K police and CRPF but those were not provided by the security agencies. "The government has never given an explicit assurance on banning pellet guns", he said.

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