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By Vijaylakshmi Nadar, Exclusive for TIO: Under a heavy cover of official lies, by the Indian government, where attempts are being made to prove to the rest of the world, that there is no unrest in the Kashmir valley, since August 5, armed soldiers are resorting not just to using tear gas shells to quell protests, but are falling back on the dastardly pellet guns to silence their own. This, despite categorical assurances given by the then Home minister Rajnath Singh, on July 2016, that they would look for other safer alternatives like chili bombs.
Despite all attempts to keep it under wraps, the Indian government was finally forced to accept the first official death in Kashmir since the lockdown. Kashmir is under a massive military cover to silence its population of seven million, since the abrogation of Article 370 on August 5. The officials have however not given a post-mortem report stating the cause of death of 18-year-old Asrar Ahmad Khan, a student of class 12, who was shot at bypassing soldiers with pellet guns on August 6. The attack itself was kept under wraps for several days.
According to his father, he was playing cricket with his friends outside their home in Srinagar, when there was no protest happening there at all. They were not even on the main road. While the doctors treating him insisted that he was a victim of teargas shelling, during a press conference in Srinagar on Wednesday, additional director general of J&K police (law and order, security) Muneer Ahmad Khan rejected allegations that Asrar was targeted by security forces. He insisted that the young boy was killed by those who pelt stones. X-Rays, however, revealed several pellets lodged in his brain, in his eyes and the rest of his face, but no stone injury.
what must have happened or will become of the 100s of youngsters under such conditions. It is feared that, at this time, the pellet gun victims are terrified of even reporting to the hospitals for fear of being tortured and jailed for being part of the protests. They may be being treated at home, dying in pain in the process. With a complete clampdown on communication, there is no way of knowing the count of those injured and dying.
Pellet guns maim and kill. They blind. And they should be banned forever. No civilized country uses it, least of all to silence its own citizens! Indian government claims it to be non-lethal, but the impact on Kashmiris has been catastrophic. These pellet guns have been used only in Kashmir since 2010, though severe protests have happened in the rest of the country too. It was before the present lockdown, severely hurt about 7000 locals, partially or fully blinding about 1500 of them, including children and women. Then just 18 months old, Hiba Nasir, was its youngest victim in November 2018. Hiba was at home with her mother, nowhere near the protest, when they started choking from a tear gas shell hurled near their house. To escape the toxic fumes, she opened the door and tried to protect her baby’s face, with her hand. A stray pellet however still lodged in the baby’s eyes through her fingers. International outrage followed, making the government go on the defensive.
Also, Read:Avoid escalation in Kashmir: UN
The pellet guns used primarily for hunting, are high-velocity guns and can spray as many as 600 tiny metal balls, called pellets. It does not follow a definitive path and lodges itself in the soft tissues of the victim’s body, extracting which is extremely painstaking, causing immense pain and trauma. The worst injuries are to the eyes, from which removing the pellets means risking blindness again, leaving the victim in agony for years.
The worst pellet gun attack happened when the Pulwama region was severely rocked in July 2016. 22-year-old Burhan Wani, of the Hizbul Mujahideen, was shot dead in a joint operation by Jammu and Kashmir police and the Indian security forces, followed by unrest in the valley for almost six months. In the largest ever attack on civilians that followed during the unrest, 96 people died, 15,000 civilians injured and 4000 security personnel injured as well. Out of them, 6000 were pellet gun victims, 782 of them, eye injuries. Most of the victims are still carrying the pellets in their bodies, and their eyes, with no reprieve in sight.
The pellet guns have not been silenced still, claiming many more victims in 2017 and 2018 and now 2019 as well.
Recently China used several, color-coded flags to warn the Hongkong protestors, red flag before they deployed pepper spray, black flag to warn of tear smoke, orange flag warning of firing with rubber ball bullets and pepper ball bullets. They have been criticized for using tear guns in enclosed spaces, which is against the manufacturer’s instructions.
To identify protestors later they were sprayed with water with a blue dye, which does not wash off easily, to enable the policemen to go door to door to identify them
In Kashmir, however, the locals are dished out the worst kind of humiliation and horror, victims to be tamed and maimed at will with brute strength in a uniform. The reason being given is that the locals are willing to pelt stones at soldiers at the behest of terrorists for just Rs 500, risking their life and limb, as stated by Rajnath Singh. Not willing to even consider that India’s muscular policy in the sensitive state is only killing militants if at all, not militancy itself which is attracting more and younger, highly educated Kashmiris into their fold.
Copy Edited By Adam Rizvi