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The Gujarat Government must avoid using unnecessary or excessive force in the policing of protests, Amnesty International India said today. Eight people, including a policeman, have been killed in protests across the state over caste quotas in education and employment.

“Law enforcement officials have the right to defend themselves and a duty to protect the public, but they must comply with international standards on the use of force in policing protests,” said Aakar Patel, Executive Director of Amnesty International India.

“Any incidents of violence and vandalism by protesters also need to be effectively investigated, and those who have committed human rights abuses brought to justice.”

The Gujarat High Court has issued a notice to the Ahmedabad city police – the state capital – ordering an investigation into alleged police abuses during the protests, to be completed in two weeks.

Under international human rights standards, law enforcement officials must always exercise restraint in using force, and ensure that any force used is necessary and proportional. Firearms may be used intentionally only as a last resort and when strictly unavoidable in order to protect life.