The use of “Pellet Guns” by Indian forces is a regular practice. India first started using pellet shotguns against Kashmiris in 2010 but this brutal act by Indian forces became evident internationally in 2016 after the martyrdom of Burhan Wani, when Protestors were treated with the pellet guns firing which resulted in thousands of injuries, the blinding of hundreds and the deaths of over 70 people. British newspaper, the Guardian published a story asking if Kashmir epitomized “the world’s first mass blinding.” Even the storm of international criticism could not stop India from the use of pellet-firing shotguns but. In August 2019, when protests erupted against the revocation of Article 370, Kashmiris were again dispersed with shotguns. Consequently, shotgun practice reduced but that was just because there was an exceptional months-long lockdown in Kashmir in which people were restricted to their houses. However, some recent events show, India has not given up on shotguns. They continue to be India’s weapon of choice to deal with Kashmiris. Kashmiris are not just symbols of prejudice: they are the one’s living lives in awful pain. Indian Administration consistently violates all international laws in the area. Regardless of how the Kashmir dispute will ultimately be resolved, there is a human side to Kashmir, which needs a proper attention now. India’s constant use of shotguns is a war crime. Recently, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has expressed apprehension over “grave violations” in Indian-occupied Kashmir and has asked the Indian authorities to end the use of shotgun pellets particularly against children.
He clearly stated in UN Report on Children 2021 that, “I call upon the government to take preventive measures to protect children, including by ending the use of pellets against children, ensuring that children are not associated in any way to security forces, and endorsing the Safe Schools Declaration and the Vancouver Principles,”. The report further added that, “A total of 39 children (33 boys, 6 girls) were killed (9) and maimed (30) by pellet guns (11) and torture (2) by unidentified perpetrators (13) (including resulting from explosive remnants of war (7), crossfire between unidentified armed groups and Indian security forces (3), crossfire between unidentified armed groups, and grenade attacks (3), Indian security forces (13), and crossfire and shelling across the Line of Control (13),”. The UN report also stated that at least seven schools remained under the Indian security forces possession for months. It added that four children were imprisoned by the Indian forces in Indian-occupied Kashmir for their unproven connotation with the armed groups. After the issuance of this shocking report, Pakistan has called on the UN Security Council to take abrupt action to safeguard children in conflict zones, mainly in Indian-occupied Kashmir. In a written statement, Pakistan’s permanent representative to UN Munir Akram, said Indian forces have been purposely targeting children with pellet guns. There is no benign or legal way for the usage of a shotgun for crowd control. At close quarters, a shotgun is deadly. When used from a distance, a shotgun is completely subjective and indiscriminate. Either way, the result is indefensible brutality. International human rights law on policing and Law Enforcement Officials (1990) articulate the use of lethal weapons most clearly in two documents approved by the UN General Assembly, the Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials (1973) and the Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms. Each of these now viewed as declaratory of the customary law. Pellet guns are used for hunting animals across the world. However, in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir, Indian troops have been using this weapon against innocent Kashmiris. There is dire need to develop the conscience of the world to pay attention to the miseries of the people of Kashmir. The current report by UN is an evident example of atrocities been facing by the people of Indian occupied Kashmir. It is the time to speak loudly for the innocent Kashmiris and specially the children.
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