Probe use of lethal force in Kashmir: Rights group to India

Angry protesters set a forest hut on fire in Anantnag after news of the youth's death spread. Photograph:( AFP )

PTI New York, United States Jul 13, 2016, 09.04 AM (IST)
India should conduct an impartial probe into the use of lethal force by police during the violent protests following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in Kashmir and ensure that basic human rights are protected, a leading human rights body has said.

"A major grievance of those protesting in Kashmir is the failure of authorities to respect basic human rights," Human Rights Watch (HRW) South Asia director Meenakshi Ganguly said in a statement.

"Ensuring that rights are protected and prosecuting those responsible for abuses would be an important first step," she said.

HRW said Indian authorities should credibly and impartially investigate police use of lethal force during the violent protests in Jammu & Kashmir that ensued since the killing of Hizb militant Wani last week.

"Rock-throwing at demonstrations is serious but does not provide police a free pass to use force against protesters," Ganguly said in a statement.

"The Indian authorities need to send a clear message that lethal force is only an option when a life is at imminent risk, and those misusing force will be held accountable," she said.

Ganguly also called on protest organisers to take steps to deter supporters from engaging in violence, including attacks on law enforcement officers.

The HRW said in a statement while law enforcement officials have a duty to protect lives and property, they should use non-violent means as far as possible and use lethal force only when absolutely necessary to save lives.

The authorities should not only investigate the use of firearms that resulted in death and injury, but also the use of pellet guns, which can cause serious injury when fired at close range or at an individual's eyes, it said.

The findings of the investigation should be public and result in appropriate disciplinary action or prosecution.