Over 1700 people in Kashmir suffered pellet injuries in firing by forces amid months of curfews and shutdown following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani last July, the PDP-BJP government has said in a report submitted to the State Human Rights Commission.
According to the official data, which is based on reports submitted by the deputy commissioners of eight out of 10 districts in Kashmir, 1,725 people including 59 women sustained pellet injuries in forces’ action after the killing of Burhan Wani on July 8, 2016.
The report reveals that a majority of the pellet injuries had taken place in north Kashmir comprising Baramulla, Bandipora and Kupwara districts while south Kashmir accounted for 261 pellet injuries. As per the report, 440 pellet injuries were reported from the Sopore town in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district. It further reveals that 812 people sustained pellet injuries in forces’ firing in other parts of the Baramulla district.
Most of the victims suffered eye injuries and at least six people lost vision in both the eyes in Baramulla district. Others had sustained pellet injuries in the lungs, arms, eyelids, legs, face, chest, head and shoulders.
As per the official data, 154 people had sustained pellet injuries in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district. In Shopian district of south Kashmir, 51 people were hit by pellets. Among the pellet victims in Shopian was a 14-year-old girl Insha Malik, a Class VIII student. The girl, who had sustained pellet injuries near the window of her kitchen, lost vision in both the eyes.
In the twin south Kashmir districts of Pulwama and Anantnag, 47 and nine people had sustained pellet injuries respectively. According to the report, 137 people were hit by pellets in central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district and 27 in Srinagar.
The official report doesn’t specify the number of pellet victims in central Kashmir’s Budgam district and north Kashmir’s Bandipora district as both the deputy commissioners had not submitted the report.
Government forces continue to use pellets continue in Kashmir despite outcry from international and local rights bodies. A 12- year old boy from Eidgah area was among at least three people killed in pellet firing by forces in Srinagar during 2016.
In a report “Losing Sight in Kashmir: The Impact of Pellet-Firing Shotguns” released in September this year, Amnesty International had said that “pellet-firing shotguns, which have been responsible for blinding, killing and traumatizing hundreds of people in Kashmir, must be immediately banned.”
“Authorities claim the pellet shotgun is not lethal, but the injuries and deaths caused by this cruel weapon bear testimony to how dangerous, inaccurate and indiscriminate it is. There is no proper way to use pellet-firing shotguns. It is irresponsible of authorities to continue the use of these shotguns despite being aware of the damage they do,” the rights body had said.
“People injured by pellet-firing shotguns have faced serious physical and mental health issues, including symptoms of psychological trauma.”