(Shakeela Sheikh, 30, from Baramulla, told Al Jazeera she had panicked when she heard that clashes had erupted in her neighbourhood on Friday, September 8. Her five-year-old son had gone to the mosque with her neighbours and, afraid, she ran out the house to search for him. She was hit in both eyes with pellets. She was also hit in the chest, neck and mouth. Her son survived, but she has lost her eyesight and now has no way to support him.)
my offerings (and i’ll say that most of the images in both news reports of this horror are hard to witness): ‘India’s crackdown in Kashmir: is this the world’s first mass blinding?’; A bloody summer of protest in Kashmir has been met with a ruthless response from Indian security forces, who fired hundreds of thousands of metal pellets into crowds of civilians, leaving hundreds blinded, the guardian, nov. 8
from al jazeera: ‘The doctors treating Kashmiris blinded by pellets’; Two Kashmiri doctors describe treating pellet injuries and share their fears for the future of their patients.
“Over 80 people are reported to have been killed and 12,000 injured in clashes with the Indian armed forces that often involve running battles between heavily-armed riot police and young people throwing stones.
The use of force against protesters isn’t new. But the shooting of pellets as a way of controlling crowds has grabbed the headlines, as hundreds have been struck in their eyes, with many losing their vision as a result.
The Indian government considers pellet guns to be non-lethal weapons, but at least 10 people have been reportedly killed since July. Human rights activists have called for the weapon to be banned, alleging they have “neither been used proportionally nor in compliance with international standards on the use of force or domestic standards on crowd control”. [snip]
Maqbool: There have been around 780 patients who have been admitted, operated and managed by our department. However, this is not the exact figure of eye injuries we have received here. There have been others who received emergency treatment but were not admitted.
Around 100 others have been to the SKIMS Medical College (in Srinagar) and I don’t know how many were managed at district hospitals. Some others have gone to Indian cities like Hyderabad and Delhi directly without consulting anyone in [the Kashmir] valley. So there would be no less than 1,000 eye injury patients since July 9.
It is very emotional. You have to remember, we are dealing with young kids. Some are 12 or 15 years old. They are often not accompanied by adults.
We need to move away from this perception that only protesters are being hit by pellets.
There is a four-and-a-half-year-old child here with pellets in the left eye. Do you think a four-year-old was throwing stones? Another lady was hit inside her home. There is Insha, a girl blinded by pellets. I call her the face of these eye pellet injury patients. She had just opened the window of her house to see what is happening outside. Then there are 50- and 60-year-olds hit in the eyes.
- Khurram Parvez, a Kashmiri human rights activist says there are more than 650,000 troops stationed in the region – that is one soldier for every 17 Kashmiris
- Independent analysts believe the number of Indian troops to be around half a million
- The Indian government does not release official figures on the number of its troops in the disputed region
- Human rights organisations have accused Indian forces in Kashmir of unlawful killings, disappearances, rape and torture
- But the Armed Forces Special Powers Act , which was introduced in the state in 1990, gives security forces virtual immunity from prosecution
“…although Indian officials have launched an inquiry into the use of pellet guns, they continue to be used. The CRPF, an Indian paramilitary unit, revealed that it had used 1.3 million pellets in 32 days, adding that “it was difficult to follow the standard operating procedure given the nature of the protests”.
‘India’s position on Kashmir a travesty of history: Pak ‘India should let Kashmiris freely decide their future through UN-mandated plebiscite’, September 18, 2016, kashmirawareness.org