Nation special report
LONDON: Severely opposing the use of pellet guns by the Indian forces in Jammu & Kashmir, a cross-party group of Members of the European Parliament have called for a ban on the use of this horrific weapon.
Wajid Khan, a Labour Member of the European Parliament representing the North West of England, has sent a letter to this effect to to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 25th March, two days after receiving national award ‘Sitara-e-Imtiaz’ from Pakistan President Dr. Arif Alvi at the gathering held at President House on Saturday, 23rd March.
The two-page letter with a list of 50 MEPs, the letter reads: “We, the undersigned, in our capacity as elected Members of the European Parliament, are writing to you to express our grave concern about the past and ongoing human rights violations against people in Kashmir, as reported in a recent OHCHR1 report. We are particularly concerned about the usage of pellet shotguns, responsible for blinding, killing and traumatizing hundreds of people in Kashmir. We particularly note the tragic case of 19-month old child who was gravely injured by a pellet gun (BBC report).
“We are concerned that The Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act 1990 (AFSPA) and the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act 1978 (PSA) give security forces virtual immunity against prosecution for any human rights violation. Therefore, we, the undersigned MEPs, urge the Indian government to: immediately end the use of pellet-firing shotguns in Jammu and Kashmir and bring all relevant Indian laws into compliance with international human rights standards; urgently repeal the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act, 1990 and amend the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act, 1978 to ensure its compliance with international human rights law; provide full and effective reparation and rehabilitation to those who have been injured by pellet-firing shotguns, and to the families of those killed; establish independent and impartial investigations into all accidents where the use of pellet-firing shotguns led to deaths or serious injuries.”
The letter has been signed by Wajid Khan MEP, Alex Mayer MEP, Amjad Bashir MEP, Sajjad Karim MEP, Julie Ward MEP, Jonathan Arnott MEP, Theresa Griffin MEP, Helga Stevens MEP, Jean Lambert MEP, John Howarth MEP, Derek Vaughan MEP, David Martin MEP, Margrete Auken MEP, Baroness Nosheena Mobarik MEP, Liliana Rodrigues MEP, Rory Palmer MEP, Anthea McIntyre MEP, Maria Arena MEP, Arndt Kohn MEP, Ana Gomes MEP, Siôn Simon MEP, Bart Staes MEP, Soraya Post MEP, Ilhan Kyuchyuk MEP, Elena Valenciano MEP, Julie Girling MEP, Tunne Kelam MEP, Jose Inacio Faria MEP, Lucy Anderson MEP, Richard Corbett MEP, Jude Kirton-Darling MEP, Maria Gabriela Zoană MEP, Barbara Lochbihler MEP, Mary Honeyball MEP, Csaba Sógor MEP, Momchil Nekov MEP, Linda McAvan MEP, Jakop Dalunde MEP, Klaus Buchner MEP, Edouard Martin MEP, Josef Weidenholzer MEP, Eva Kaili MEP, Eugen Freund MEP, Brando Benifei MEP, Paul Brannen MEP, Fabio Massimo Castaldo MEP, Jordi Solé MEP, Andrejs Mamikins MEP, Claude Moraes MEP, and Caroline Nagtegaal MEP.
Commenting over the situation while talking to the media, Wajid Khan said that the the letter demands the end of one of the many “human rights abuses” in Kashmir – the use of pellet guns against civilians – by forces. The letter particularly points out that using pellet guns is against international human rights law and that the immunity that the Indian military currently enjoy is untenable and cannot continue.
He was pleased and satisfied with the support from his colleagues from different political parties and countries. “A day will come when people of Kashmir would see the dawn of their independence and sovereignty and will avail their basic rights of self-determination”, he stated.