Forces Flout SHRC Ban, Use Pepper Gas

Its use in residential areas dangerous: Health experts

SRINAGAR: Despite clear directions from the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) against the use of pepper gas to disperse protestors, Government has failed to control police and para-military forces who are using the deadly pepper gas against protestors in residential areas.

Pertinent to mention that despite the SHRC ban, the use of pepper gas has reportedly caused death of atleast three ailing persons while as more than 30 persons including minors recieved treatment in hospitals after forces used gas in downtown areas of Srinagar city and in some other districts of valley.

While taking cognizance of the complaint filed by a human rights activists, the SHRC had impressed upon the authorities to refrain from use of excessive pepper gas. It was urged that other options be explored while maintaining the law and order. Police Chief of the State furnished the report dated 18-01-2012 wherein he has not denied the harmful effect of excessive use of pepper gas and has not dealt with the allegations in respect of harmful effect of pepper gas.

“After considering the fresh material placed on record, statutory duties is cast on the Commission to protect, safeguard life, liberty and dignity of the citizens of the state and cannot be mute spectator. State is duty bound under constitution and law to protect the lives of the citizens and in no case are at liberty or have license to adopt such measures which would endanger the health of its subjects in the name of maintaining law and order,” SHRC member Rafiq Fida observed in the order

Hospital sources admitted that many people including minors were adversely affected by pepper gas.

More than a dozen children fell unconscious during this week in the Srinagar downtown area. Aisha daughter of Mohammad Latief and Aalia both from downtown fell unconscious after pepper gas was used in their localities to disperse the protestors.

“Old aged people, women and children often suffocate and have to remain outside in the air. Use of pepper gas have made our lives hell,” inhabitants of down town said.

People in Pulwama, Baramulla and some other places blamed that during protests CRPF and police use pepper guns which adversely affects their health.

Auqaf Committee Pulwama spokesman Bashir Aazim said, “We have informed authorities to stop the use of pepper guns immediately, otherwise we will launch district-wide agitation.”

Pertinently, three civilians all asthama patients have so far died after inhaling the pepper gas used by the security forces in the various city neighbourhoods. Abdul Rashid Sheikh of Qutab-ud-Din Pora, Aali Kadal, Srinagar died on February 17. Another person Mohammad Yousuf Sofi son of late Ali Mohammad of Batmaloo died on February 20. Similarly Hajira a resident of Safa Kadal died after complaining of severe respiratory problem soon after pepper gas was used in the area.

Health experts speak:

Use of pepper gas in the residential areas is dangerous and is responsible for the various health risks even the risk of death is not ruled out by health experts.

“Closing of eyes, disconcerting sensation of the eyelids bubbling and boiling, an instant sensation of the restriction of the airways and the general feeling of sudden and intense, searing pain the face, nose and throat and coughing almost always follows the initial spray”, a senior medico said.

“The duration of its effects depends on the strength of the spray but the average full effects around thirty to forty minutes, with diminished effects lasting for hours”, he added.

Health experts say that pepper spray are far more severe, including temporary blindness which lasts from 15-30 minutes, a burning sensation of the skin which lasts from 45 to 60 minutes, upper body spasms which force a person to bend forward and uncontrollable coughing making it difficult to breathe or speak for between 3 to 15 

minutes. They said that it can cause life risk to the asthma patients and to children, adding, “It could cause abortion to pregnant woman,” they warned.

Deputy Commissioner Srinagar refused to comment o the issue, saying, “I’m in a meeting and cannot leave it midway to comment on the issue.”  (KNS)


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