NEW YORK:The Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Wednesday asked the Indian authorities to credibly and impartially investigate police use of force during violent protests in Occupied Kashmir that have killed more than 30 people and injured hundreds.

Since the killing of Burhan Wani and two other Hizb-ul-Mujahedin members in an armed exchange with the forces on July 8, 2016, demonstrations have occurred in various parts of the state in which protesters have hurled rocks. State security forces have responded by firing pellet guns, teargas, and live ammunition.

“Rock-throwing at demonstrations is serious but does not provide police a free pass to use force against protesters,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “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.”

While law enforcement officials have a duty to protect lives and property, they should use nonviolent means as far as possible, only use force when unavoidable and in a proportionate manner, and use lethal force only when absolutely necessary to save lives, Human Rights Watch said.

The Indian Express reported that hospitals were packed with injured protesters. One ophthalmology ward said that doctors had performed nearly 100 eye surgeries on people with pellet gun injuries.

Indian security forces have been using pellet guns as a nonlethal option for crowd control after nearly 120 people were killed during weeks of protests in 2010. The use of pellet guns since 2010 has reportedly resulted in at least 300 hospitalizations in Srinagar, including 16 cases in which the patient lost their sight completely.

The Indian government should publicly order the security forces to abide by the United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, Human Rights Watch said.