International rights group Amnesty International (AI) India on Thursday asked the Jammu and Kashmir government to put a ban on the use of the pellet-firing shotguns.
“The govt must prohibit the use of pellet-firing shotguns in policing demonstrations, as they are inherently inaccurate and indiscriminate,” said AI programmes director Shemeer Babu.
Use of pellet guns came under scanner after a 16-year-old student, Hamid Nazir Bhat from Baramulla district’s Palhalan area, received a volley of pellets on his face on May 21.
The Hindustan Times on Wednesday highlighted the plight of the boy, who is on the verge of losing his eyesight due to the indiscriminate use of the non-lethal weapon.
“Several cases have been reported of people suffering serious injuries, particularly in the eyes, as a result,” said Babu.
The government figures suggest that more than 200 youth have received pellet injuries on their face since the gun was first introduced in 2010.
“The police have a duty to protect lives and prevent violent crimes. However, in carrying out their duty they must, as far as possible, use non-violent means,” Babu added.
“Any force used should be only against those acting violently, and the police should always ensure that non-involved persons are not hurt,” he added.
The AI representative also pointed out that pellet guns could not ensure well-targeted shots. “It causes serious injury, including to bystanders and protesters not engaging in violence. These risks are almost impossible to control,” he said.