New Delhi, March 21 (IANS) Amnesty International Thursday called for a halt in the use “pepper gas” to tackle street protests in Jammu and Kashmir.
“In view of the recent deaths and harmful effects on bystanders, Amnesty calls for security forces to… revert to previously tested and less potentially harmful methods of crowd dispersal,” it said.
Amnesty also urged the Jammu and Kashmir government to conduct “a prompt, thorough, independent and impartial investigation” into the three deaths that were allegedly caused by the use of pepper gas.
On March 8, a 60-year-old woman of Srinagar died after a stray pepper spray grenade landed in her house from outside and detonated, engulfing her home in fumes, it said in a statement.
Two others, Muhammad Yusuf Sofi, age 40, Abdul Rashid Sheikh, 60, also died allegedly from exposure to the pepper gas, it said.
All three were residents of Srinagar, and died in separate incidents where pepper spray grenades were used by law enforcement.
All three individuals suffered from pulmonary diseases such as chronic asthma, which were exacerbated by prolonged exposure to the pepper spray, doctors have been quoted as saying in local media reports, Amnesty said.
Amnesty stressed that these deaths underscored that police must exercise restraint at all times in the use of “non-lethal” weapons, and minimize damage and injury.
Pepper spray grenades were incorporated into the arsenal of “non-lethal” weaponry used to maintain law and order and disperse large crowds in Jammu and Kashmir after a five-month street protest in 2010.