Bilal Bashir Bhat
The Pellets which are brutalizing the human values in were first used on 19th of August 2010 and Mudasir Nasir Hajam of North Kashmir became the first person who lost his life to this deadly weapon. Since then this weapon continues to shatter many dreams and ironically during the current year after the killing of Hizb Commander Burhan Muzafar Wani the deadly weapon continued to brutalize the humanity on larger scale. Pellet gun which can only be used against the animals or birds have taken vision of dozens of youth which makes a shame on the soul of humanity and a bolt on democracy under which the generation of Kashmir is being blinded.
During the present turmoil in Kashmir which erupted on 9th July around 100 people suffered serious pellet injuries to their both eyes while hundreds received injuries to one eye resulting in damage to their vision. The India’s leading retina surgeon and the Padma Awardee Dr. S. Natrajan who came all the way from Mumbai admitted on record that after visiting all conflict areas across the world he found the situation in Kashmir valley very unique when it comes to dealing with unarmed and innocent protestors. During ongoing turmoil only Dr. Natrajan has performed more than 45 surgeries in Srinagar’s SMHS hospital.
The pellets have once again shattered dozens of lives, as many as over 200 people particularly youth have been admitted in various hospitals in the valley who have received pellet injuries to their eyes, and many of them may never be able to see again. The fate of those referred outside valley and going through treatment in private hospitals is not known.
“The pellet comes in a forces so it penetrates through and through the whole layers of the eyes, from the front to the back, so we have to operate all layers thus causing damage which is difficult to recover,” Dr Ashish Holani prominent Mumbai based retina surgeon said.
The pellet gun fires which were introduced in Kashmir as a non lethal alternative to bullets against protestors caused death to 10 persons only in year 2010. A study conducted at SKIMS Soura revealed during the turmoil months of 2010, as many as 198 people received major pellet injuries, five persons blinded in the involved eye.
During the ongoing turmoil in Kashmir, apart from killing of more than 50 persons in discriminate firing and injuries to 7,000 people, we are witness to the killing of Srinagar’s Chattabal man Riyaz Ahmad Shah who was hit by pellet fires from close range. As many as 360 pellets were discovered in his body during autopsy.
“These pellet guns were introduced as effective non lethal crowd control weapons and authorities repeatedly claimed that these pellet gun will rarely harm the target however these pump action guns are creating havoc in the Kashmir valley claiming many precious lives,” said Mannan Bukhari a prominent Human Rights defender who has also authored a first ever book over the horror of pellets, adding, that the figures which are being provided by the authorities are not up to the mark infact they are hiding the actual figures because number of such victims don’t report to the government hospitals due to the fear of getting arrested and profiling done by the police and other agencies present in the hospitals.
The pellets which were introduced in Kashmir Valley to minimize casualties’ aftermath the killing of over 130 youth during the civil agitation of 2010 have proved to be most lethal.
The above quotes, statics and data is enough to term pellet as deadly weapon and time to seriously rethink over the use of pellet on protestors, the way it has been used in Kashmir is undoubtedly among basic human rights violations.
The use of pellet guns to disperse the protestors is a crime against humanity and against the International humanitarian law to which India is signatory. It is also against the constitution of India which guarantees the right to life. Contrary to this the government forces in Kashmir are not only using pellet guns in brazen violation of the international laws but against their own law.
Although people have right to come on roads to protest peacefully on the legitimate issues but according to the doctors most of the patients injured in forces action were hit above the waist which clearly depicts that how forces are violating the Standard Operating Procedures. According to the law the forces have to use minimum force to disperse the protestors but they can’t go beyond powers even it can’t use its powers excessively, therefore maiming kids of Kashmir for entire life can never be justified by inviting specialist doctors.
Despite the repeated appeals from the several quarters of Human Rights Organizations and political parties even from those who are presently driving the ruling dispensation in Jammu and Kashmir the pellet remains to continue threat to life. The excessive use of pellet gun and legalizing this inhuman tool of barbarism to naked aggression by putting forever the life of people in dark just because they protest clearly indicates that there is need for the ruling class to envisaging the real view of politics.
Recently people in Kashmir saw a ray of hope that they may get rid of this deadly weapon after Home Minister of India Mr. Rajnath Singh quoting statics and data conducted by Manan Bukhari on the floor of Parliament assured to find the alternative to disperse the protestors.
Well, Amnesty International has once again asked Jammu and Kashmir government to end use of pellet guns in Jammu and Kashmir following after the death of a third person in Kashmir due to injuries caused by pellet guns but the important aspect is to address the root cause i.e. the political dispute of Kashmir which is not concealed neither to the claimants of largest democracy or its collaborators.
Bilal Bashir Bhat is a Kashmir based freelance Journalist and social activist can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org