SRI NAGAR: Despite instructions from Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to use pellet guns in “rarest of rare cases,” pump guns continue to be a major part of crowd control measure for security forces in Kashmir. After scores were injured and many, including a 15-year-old girl, Insha Mushtaq, were blinded by pellets in 2016, the Valley is dealing with another season of pellet horror. Majid Ahmad Khan, a labourer, is undergoing treatment for pellet injuries to his left eye in Srinagar’s Shri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) Hospital. “I suffered the injury in firing by security forces near my home on April 11,” Majid said.
A gunfight had broken out in Khudwani area of Kulgam between terrorists and security personnel on April 11.On learning of the operation, the residents went to the encounter site to aid the militants’ escape and began pelting stones at the security forces, and they in turn, fired bullets and pellets guns to dispel the mob. Unfortunately for Majid, some boys outside his home pelted stones on the security men when they were withdrawing from the area after lifting the cordon. “I was neither part of the protest nor indulging in stone pelting but had ventured outside to check on my vehicle and was hit by pellets in my eye,” he said.
Doctors at SMHS Hospital operated on Majid. “After the first surgery, the doctors told us he needs another,” said Majid’s brother, Mohammad Yaqoob.He said the doctors have told them they are not certain wether Majid would be able to see with his damaged eye. “We have not told Majid because he will get depressed. We have told him that he will be able to see again after the second surgery,” Yaqoob said.
Irfan Ahmad Bhat from Nowpora, Kulgam, who was also hit in the left eye in Khudwani the same day, is also undergoing treatment at SMHS Hospital.
“Irfan was operated upon and doctors have told us he needs another surgery to regain vision,” said his cousin Suhail Ahmad. Twelve others, who suffered pellet injuries in Khudwani, are undergoing treatment. Dr Saleem Tak, medical superintendent of SMHS Hospital, said nine of them suffered eye injuries.On April 1, 45 people with pellet injuries sustained during a clash with security forces near two encounter sites in Shopian were also treated at the hospital. Tak said of the 45 injured brought to the hospital, 25 had eye injuries. “Fortunately, now, we have got equipment to treat the pellet victims,” he said.
A doctor, said some of the injured in the Shopian firing were hit by pellets in both eyes. “A few of them are facing imminent partial or complete blindness despite surgery,” he said.After fresh pellet injuries, there have been calls again to ban them. However, CRPF IG Zulfiqar Hasan said, “What will security men do when 10,000 people pelt rocks? At least 61 CRPF men were injured in stone pelting on April 11. In the end, they were forced to use pellet guns... But we have instructed our men to use them sparingly and fire on the lower parts of the body.”