Pepper Gas Use: Are There Rules Or Is It Free For All?


SHRC Seeks Copy In Week’s Time, Else Would Presume ‘It Is Free For All’

SRINAGAR — The State Human Rights Commission has granted government “last opportunity” of one week to produce the copy of standard operating procedure (SOP) regarding the use of pepper gas while maintaining law and order in the Kashmir Valley.

 “Copy of SOP as directed has been produced. The last opportunity for one week is granted. If the copy of SOP is not produced by next date, it will be presumed that there is no SOP and it is free for all,” said chairperson of SHRC Justice (Retd) Bilal Nazki.     

The Commission was hearing a plea filed on December 2, 2011, by Chairman International Forum for Justice Mohammad Ahsan Untoo, alleging police use pepper gun gas in huge quantity due to which residents of various areas of Srinagar are subjected to huge torture as infants and elderly persons got unconscious due to inhaling of pepper gas.

“As per expert opinion, excessive use of pepper gas is dangerous to human life. It can cause severe chest infection which in turn can lead to tuberculosis and asthma besides weakness in eyesight particularly among infants and minors, dysentery, etc” he has submitted in the plea. The gas is harmful and risky particularly for pregnant woman and child, he said.

Quoting opinion of an expert, Untoo states that doses of some of the chemicals in pepper spray can produce respiratory, cardiac and neurological problems and even death.

While the complainant had stated that a few persons also died due to the pepper gas used by police and paramilitary forces, the SHRC had, during one of the previous hearing, underlined that State was 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.

 “The state is to protect human rights and fundamental rights of the citizens, even in the face of grave provocations and adverse situation. The officers entrusted with the duty to maintain law and order have to act with due regard to human rights of the citizens of the State. Some suitable action should be taken against the concerned. After all, a law is respected for its observance rather than its breach or its being on a statute book,” the SHRC had said.  


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