International non-profit organisation Amnesty International on Wednesday said that pump action guns used by Indian security forces in Kashmir have killed at least 14 people and blinded hundreds since July 2016. The NGO added that its India unit had documented the cases of 88 people who lost their eyesight either temporarily or permanently due to the security forces’ use of pump action guns between 2014 and 2017. The pump action guns are also known as pellet guns.
“School-going boys and girls have lost vision in one or both eyes, and have difficulty reading, playing with their friends, or watching cartoons,” the Amnesty International statement said. “Several people have not regained their eyesight despite going through repeated surgeries, and are spending considerable amounts on medical treatment. Some still have pellets inside their eyes, because it is medically risky to remove them.” The NGO said many of those affected also show signs of psychological trauma.
Amnesty International India said that it had launched a campaign to urge Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to immediately end the use of pump action guns. The NGO also said the government should provide treatment in line with international standards to those injured by the pellets.
Further, it called for criminal investigations into all incidents where the use of pellet-firing shotguns led to deaths or serious injuries. Amnesty International India also asked the government to train personnel of the Central and state governments in crowd control, as outlined in the United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms, and the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials.
In April, the Centre had informed the Supreme Court that it used pump action guns on protestors in Jammu and Kashmir as a last resort and was now developing new rubber-based shots to deal with stone-pelters in the valley. The Indian Army has faced severe criticism for injuring hundreds of people with “non-lethal” pump action guns during the protests in July last year. The Home Ministry had set up a panel in August 2016, which had suggested pump action guns be replaced with shells containing Pelargonic Acid Vanillyl Amide.