Friday July 19, 2024

India using pellet guns to blind Kashmiris

By Humayun Aziz Sandeela
January 03, 2021

Indian severity in illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir is anything but a new phenomenon however, the use of pellet guns (a type of shotgun) has added another dimension to it. Pellet guns are not used elsewhere on the planet accept in IIOJK which obviously shows the Indian mentality of using it as an instrument of torment to suppress the voice of the Kashmiris.

Being marked for the third time since it was officially designated by the UN General Assembly, the World Braille Day on January 4, 2021 brings issues to light of the significance of the tactile global communication system, which empowers blind and visually impaired people, to understand their full human rights. It is assessed that roughly 2.2 billion individuals have vision impairment or visual deficiency, as indicated by the Worth Health Organisation (WHO), a billion of whom have either not had their condition tended to, or whose impedance might have been forestalled. Not meeting their needs, or fulfilling their rights, has far-reaching consequences: vision loss often represents a lifetime of inequality, poorer health, and barriers to education and employment. However, the situation in IIOJK is totally different as Indian forces are deliberately blinding the Kashmiri people to suppress their ongoing liberation struggle.

Pellet guns are used for hunting animals across the world. But in IIOJK, Indian troops have been using this weapon against innocent Kashmiris. Pellet guns were first used by the Indian police in IIOJK in 2010 for controlling protesters as a “non-lethal” alternative to other deadlier weapons. However, in 2010, 14-year-old Irshad Ahmad Parray and 20-year-old Mudasir Nazir lost their lives to pellet gun injuries. These “non-deadly” weapons have caused serious injury and serious damage to many Kashmiris so far. Indian occupational forces are continuously maiming, blinding, and killing the Kashmiris by using these guns.

Since 2010, every two in ten casualties have been executed by pellet guns, yet these firearms are viewed as the better alternative, a “non-deadly” decision to control protests. Human Rights Watch in one of its reports pointed out that 17 individuals were killed because of the use of pellet guns between 2015 and 2017. It also mentioned that the pellets discharged from shotguns blinded 139 individuals between July 2016 and February 2019. According to Research Section of Kashmir Media Service, from 2016 till October 2020, 10,500 civilians have been injured due to use of pellet guns, 139 people have been blinded, 210 lost their eyesight in one eye while vision of 200 people was damaged partially. In January 2018, Mehbooba Mufti, the then chief minister of IIOJK, told the so-called Assembly of IIOJK that 6,221 individuals had been injured by pellets between July 2016 and February 2017 and 782 of those had eye injuries.

In total infringement of international laws, the Indian government is violating international standards with its response to protests in IIOJK. In particular, New Delhi is violating the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials and the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials. The basic principles state that, “Law enforcement officials (must) apply non-violent means before resorting to the use of force”. Additionally, provision five states, “whenever the lawful use of force and firearms is unavoidable, law enforcement officials shall: (a) exercise restraint in such use and act in proportion to the seriousness of the offence... (b) minimise damage and injury... (c) ensure that assistance and medical aid are rendered to any injured or affected person at the earliest moment...” However, in Kashmir, restriction isn’t being worked out, injury isn’t being limited and clinical help isn’t guaranteed. Pellet firearms are not a proportional reaction to the protests. A great deal of harm has been perpetrated, especially including individuals’ vision, far too many bystanders, including kids, have been harmed and clinical help comes just at the danger of being captured and arraigned.

The pellet guns cartridges fire an enormous number of little pellets over a wide reach. Indeed, even the inspector general of the Jammu and Kashmir police recognized that pellets don’t have an anticipated direction.

The United Nations Basic Principles 13 and 14 discuss the methods to disperse protests, stating, “in the dispersal of assemblies that are...non-violent, law enforcement officials shall avoid the use of force” and “in the dispersal of violent assemblies, law enforcement officials may use firearms only when less dangerous means are not practicable”. Further, firearms can only be used in the conditions stipulated under principle 9 - “self-defence or defence of others, against the imminent threat of death or serious injury, to prevent serious crime involving grave threat to life...”

Moreover, the fundamental principles require that, “in cases of death and serious injury or other grave consequences, a detailed report shall be sent promptly to competent authorities.” Hence, authorities should report and investigate each case of serious injury resulting from the use of pellet guns. Notwithstanding, rather than examining these wounds, Indian police personnel were seen attacking ambulances and looking through clinics to make arrests after the protests.

Under article 3 of the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials, “law enforcement officials may use force only when strictly necessary”. The code continues, “in general, firearms should not be used except when a suspected offender offers armed resistance or otherwise jeopardizes the lives of others”. Furthermore, the introduction to the code states, “every law enforcement agency should be representative of and responsive and accountable to the community as a whole”.

The Customary International Humanitarian Law which applies to war like circumstances, regardless of whether between states or intra-state, in its Rule 14 obviously precludes the state powers from dispatching any furnished activity which “might be required to cause coincidental loss of regular citizen life, injury to regular people, harm to non-military personnel objects, or a mix thereof, which would be over the top comparable to the solid and direct military bit of leeway foreseen, is restricted.” Rule 71 of the law disallows the use of weapons which are naturally unpredictable.

It is appropriate to bring up that the Indian Ordnance Factory Board - the maker of the ammo - has led no testing on the wellbeing of the 12-measure shotguns and the ammo, and it creates the weapons and ammo with little administrative oversight and responsibility.

The weapons and strategies employed by India in IIOJK fail to satisfy global guidelines on proportionality in evaluating the use of power against dissidents. It seems that the powers have received the arrangement of harming a greatest number of protesters as a method of deterring them from their struggle.

The UN Human Rights Committee, which monitors compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, also states in its General Comment No. 37 that “Firearms are not an appropriate tool for the policing of assemblies, and must never be used simply to disperse an assembly.... Any use of firearms by law enforcement officials in the context of assemblies must be limited to targeted individuals in circumstances in which it is strictly necessary to confront an imminent threat of death or serious injury.”

The 2020 UN guidance on “less-deadly weapons” in law requirement likewise debilitates the use of pellets. The guidance says, projectiles fired at the same time are inaccurate and, in general, their use cannot comply with the principles of necessity and proportionality. Metal pellets, such as those fired from shotguns, should never be used.”

The use of pellet guns has come under criticism internationally, with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) already describing the method as “one of the most dangerous weapons” used in Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

Unfortunately, the present status of law in India awards government officials’ exemption for even the most genuine basic freedoms infringement, including the current pellet attacks and breakdowns in group control methodology. The Indian Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) delivers accepted insusceptibility for policemen, individuals from the military and other government authorities. Segment 197 of the CrPC says that no court has locale over a supposed criminal offense carried out by an administration official “while acting or indicating to act inside the release of his official obligation”, without first getting authorisation from the essential focal or state government.

Conversely, the instance of Shaimaa’ El-Sabbagh, in Egypt, represents responsibility not seen inside India’s general set of laws. El-Sabbagh was a 31-year-old lobbyist who died during a public gathering because of shotgun wounds. This case brought about the condemning of a cop to 15 years for her death.

Besides, following the Koothuparamba episode in 1994, in Kerala, Indian cops were accused of homicide and needed to battle the case on interest for absolution. The officials were absolved because of the exemption accessible to them.

Albeit both of these were uncommon instances of arraignment, Kashmiris can’t comprehend charges of this nature being collected against a policeman.

Unexpectedly, the very day that popular Kashmiri youth leader Burhan Wani was martyred in July 2016, the Supreme Court of India made a decision in Extra Judicial Execution Victim Families Association v. Union of India discussing fake encounters in Manipur and “the illegality of the use of excessive and retaliatory force by the army, security forces and police”. The Supreme Court noted that the rule of law applied “even when dealing with the enemy”. This commitment, however, is breached every day in IIOJK. Torment, curfews, closures, mass captures, killing civilians and extra-legal killings have been essential for India’s control system for quite a while, exasperating disdain towards the Indian occupation, which turned into a siege on August 05, 2019. However, the indiscriminate use of ostensibly “non-deadly” pellet guns by Indian forces in IIOJK is a relatively new and devastating strategy that, notwithstanding having raised worldwide outrage, continues unabated at an enormous human expense.

On this year’s World Braille Day, there is dire need to shake the conscience of the world to pay heed to the miseries of the people of IIOJK. The champions of human rights should use their influence upon India to stop it from the use of pellet guns aimed at maiming, blinding and killing innocent civilians because individuals with visual deficiency may experience the ill effects of repudiation, offense umbrage, inferiority complex, anxiety, depression and mental issues due to their insufficiency as compared to sound individuals or because of the sense of low confidence.