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The Amnesty International (India) on Wednesday said the government of India as well as the J&K government have asserted that use of pellet guns would be the “last option” in Kashmir but haven’t given any “concrete assurance” on whether their use would be completed banned. 

The AII, a part of the Amnesty International global human rights movement, also said that the crowd control measures adopted by the police and paramilitary forces in Kashmir “violate international standards.”

Addressing a press conference here, Aakar Patel, executive director of the Amnesty International, said that they took up the issue of destruction caused by the pellet guns in Kashmir with the central government and also with the state government. “We have been told that the government understands the damage caused by pellet guns, but they need it to tackle stone-pelting. We were assured that the use of pellet guns would be the last option, but didn’t get any sort of assurance on banning them in full,” Patel said.

He said the government claims that pellet gun is not lethal, but the injuries and deaths caused by this “cruel weapon bear testimony to how dangerous, inaccurate and indiscriminate it is.”

“There is no proper way to use pellet-firing. It is irresponsible of authorities to continue to the use of pellet guns despite being aware of the damage they do,” Patel said.

He said the Amnesty International India calls on the central government and J&K government to immediately stop the use of pellet-firing and ensure that the use of all other weapons is in line with the international human rights standards. “Authorities should also provide full compensation in line with international standards to those injured by pellet-firing and the families of those killed,” Patel said.

Shailesh Rai, senior policy advisor at the Amnesty International said that in Kashmir, police and paramilitary forces are violating the international standards on crowd control.

“The argument put forth by the forces that if bullets would be used on the protestors, then the casualties would rise, is misleading. Bullets are used when there is an imminent threat to life not for dispersing the crowd,” Rai said. 

He said the UN code of conduct for law enforcement officials states that “law enforcement officials may use force only when strictly necessary and to the extent requite for the performance of their duty.” 

“The UN basic principles on the use of force and firearms state that force should only be used when unavoidable and law enforcement officials should exercise restraint in using force and minimize damage and injury,” he said.