05 October 2016

Media report threat of use by officials

Landmine Protest India

Locals have protested landmines for years
© Indian Campaign to Ban Landmines

The Indian military has threatened to lay additional landmines on the border with Pakistan in the wake of recent clashes and mounting tension, according to a report by The Economic Times of India.

"It is extremely disappointing that the world's largest democracy is reportedly contemplating the use of landmines again," said Megan Burke, Director of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. "New laying of antipersonnel mines by government forces anywhere in the world is almost unheard of, as the use of the weapons is clearly at odds with the most basic principles of International Humanitarian Law. Why would India want to lay minefields that will threaten the security of its own people?"

The only three states known to have used antipersonnel mines in recent years are Myanmar, North Korea and Syria.

The International Campaign to Ban Landmines urges India to renounce any mine-laying activities and to join the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty.

While the media report does not specify whether the current threat relates to antipersonnel or antivehicle mines, both weapons are indiscriminate due to their incapacity to distinguish between military and civilian targets. They threaten civilian lives during a conflict and remain a deadly danger long after clashes have ended, until they are safely cleared.

India's last major use of antipersonnel mines took place between December 2001 and July 2002, when the Indian Army deployed an estimated two million mines along its northern and western border with Pakistan. This was probably the most extensive use of antipersonnel mines anywhere in the world since the Mine Ban Treaty was adopted in 1997. Since these mines were laid, dozens of Indian civilians have been killed or injured as result every year. According to a report of the Lok Sabha Standing Committee on Defence, the Indian Army suffered 1,776 casualties while laying and removing its minefields on the border between December 2001 and April 2005.

The 1997 Mine Ban Treaty bans the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of antipersonnel mines and places obligations on countries to clear affected areas, assist victims and destroy stockpiles. It is one of the most widely accepted treaties: over 80% of the world's countries are officially on board. Only 35 states, including India, remain outside the treaty.