A US-based health rights group has accused Indian security forces of “excessive” and “indiscriminate” use of force against protesters with weapons like pellet guns during clashes in Kashmir this year, resulting in injuries and deaths. In their report, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) describes the excessive and indiscriminate use of force against protesters by Indian state police and Central Reserve Police Force with weapons misleadingly represented as “less than lethal”.
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These included tear gas grenades, pepper gas shells, live ammunition, and 12-gauge shotguns loaded with metal pellets, which account for the majority of injuries, it said in a report yesterday.
“While Indian authorities claimed that the use of these weapons was meant to reduce the potential for injuries or fatalities, PHR researchers found that their use had in fact caused serious injury and death,” a media release said.
It also accused security forces of using “intimidation tactics” against medical workers attempting to treat the injured.
PHR said it found that authorities actively impeded protesters’ access to urgent medical care, both by harassing medical workers attempting to treat protesters and by preventing doctors from reaching the hospitals where they work.
PHR called upon the Indian government to demonstrate its respect for the rights of all citizens by: prohibiting weapons for crowd control that are indiscriminate and cause excessive injury and death, namely the 12-gauge shotgun loaded with No9 shot; and provide adequate equipment and training to police forces to minimize injuries and deaths caused by police action.
It also called upon India to cease unlawful practices that obstruct access to health care.