‘Use of pellet guns in IIOJK constitutes a war crime’

Islamabad, September 19 : In Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir, political analysts, Kashmir watchers and observers have said that the ongoing use of pellet firing shotguns by Indian troops in the territory constitutes a war crime.

India first started using pellet guns against the Kashmiris in 2010 but the matter only hit the international prominence in 2016 when protests following the extra-judicial killing of popular youth leader, Burhan Wani, resulted in thousands of injuries, the blinding of hundreds and the deaths of over 70 people. The massive use of pellet guns caught the attention of the world. The Guardian published a story asking if Kashmir represented “the world’s first mass blinding”.

Political analysts, Kashmir watchers and observers while talking to the KMS over phone from Srinagar while seeking anonymity due to reprisal from the Indian authorities said that the people of IIOJK were not just symbols of injustice, they were also living in terrible pain. The Kashmir people also have rights under international law but their rights are being consistently violated by the Indian regime, they said. “Irrespective of how the territorial issue of Kashmir is eventually resolved, there is a human aspect to Kashmir which needs to be confronted now. This is not just a dry legal dispute to be debated in textbooks and seminars,” they added.

Kashmir watchers and observers said, as far as international law is concerned, the position is very simple: there is no legal regime which permits a state to routinely disperse crowds of civilians by firing shotguns at them.

According to the Omega Research Foundation (ORF), a UK-based independent organization that monitors military equipment, “The spread pattern specified by the pellet manufacturer is so inaccurate that even when security forces use the weapon to target protesters’ legs, pellets are still likely to hit areas of the body above the waist. No modification could make its use compliant with international human rights law and standards.”

The analysts and observers regretted that Indian troops regularly use shotguns against crowds even when there is no imminent danger of death or serious injury to them. “In the most recent instance, for example, the Kashmiri people who were fired upon were not even protesting: they were simply taking out a religious procession.”

They said pellet guns remain the preferred option for Indian forces in IIOJK and India’s insistence that it has no other option is absurd. They noted that there is no other country in the world besides India which uses shotguns for crowd control. And even within India, there is no place where shotguns are regularly and consistently used for crowd control, they pointed out.

They opined that the impunity given to the Indian troops and police in IIOJK is the main cause of human rights violations by the forces’ personnel in the territory. They said that not a single member of the armed forces deployed in IIOJK had been punished for their brutal actions in the territory so far.

Political analysts and observers deplored that the UN Security Council has chosen to remain quiet for many years on the Kashmir dispute but the fact that Kashmir is dispute has nothing to do with the human rights of the Kashmiris. “Their human rights are undisputed. And it is time that the international community stopped turning a blind eye to India’s violation of those rights,” they remarked.

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