The debate on banning pellet guns is still raging in Kashmir where a seven-week unrest has left over 650 victims with injuries in their eyes. In Srinagar’s SMHS hospital alone, 59 pellet victims with eye injuries were admitted after firing took place in Budgam and Anantnag on Tuesday. Seven civilians were also killed in the massive protests.
Many pellet victims who were taken for advanced treatment to AIIMS in New Delhi have returned, complaining lack of assistance. “Even the doctors disappointed us by saying that we should wait for our turn and come after a few months,” the parents of a pellet victim claimed. A 14-year-old girl, Insha from Shopian is also likely to return from AIIMS as doctors have told her family that her both eyes have been damaged beyond repair. Insha Mushtaq has become a symbol of excessive use of pellet guns as she received pellet injuries inside her house while CRPF was trying to control a protest in Shopian. A junior doctor in the Ophthalmology Department of Srinagar’s SMHS hospital claimed: “They took a few victims (to New Delhi) to show the media that they will provide them advanced treatment. Most of them have returned without being given any treatment or help at AIIMS.” While Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said that there were clear instructions to the CRPF to use pellet guns in unavoidable circumstances, human rights groups and relatives of fresh pellet victims contended the CRPF was using pellet guns as a first option.
“They are lying; there was a peaceful protest and CRPF fired pellet guns without any warning,” said Abdul Rashid Khan of Kupwara whose teenage son Farooq Khan is likely to lose one eye to pellet injuries. The civil society of Kashmir has demanded an immediate ban on pellet guns. The government has formed an expert committee which will submit a report to the Union Home Ministry within two months.
A PDP minister, meanwhile, said the Congress is engaging in doublespeak on the matter. “Former Home Minister P. Chidambaram is the most vocal about the ban. However, he is the one who had ordered its (pellet guns) purchase during the 2010 unrest,” the minister told this correspondent.