Mehbooba ‘surprised’ most pellet victims she met were minors

Mehbooba ‘surprised’ most pellet victims she met were minors

Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti Wednesday said she was “surprised” to know that most of the pellet victims she had “invited” home recently were minors.

“The police has to engage in parenting and counselling of these children. I had invited pellet victims to my home recently. I was surprised to know that most of them were minors (14, 15 or 16 years of age). What will you do with such kids? You will have to treat him like a kid even if sometimes, God forbid, he has a stone in his hand instead of books,” she said while addressing attestation-cum-passing out parade of 947 recruits at the Police Training School in Jammu.

Asking the police recruits to have a “humane approach” in dealing with public, Mehbooba said the real test for them would be outside the training school.

“I have heard about your training and skills…It is not just about firing SLR and Ak-47, but how you behave when you face a 9-year-old and an 80-year-old. The real test awaits you outside,” she said.

The district administrators of eight districts – Baramulla, Kupwara, Shopian, Pulwama, Anantnag, Kulgam, Ganderbal and Srinagar – recently submitted a report before the State Human Rights Commission, stating that 2,524 people were injured by pellets, many of them in the eyes, during last year’s uprising in Kashmir.

The actual number of pellet victims is 5,850, according to data compiled by the state’s health and medical education department.

Nearly 100 people were killed by government forces amid months of curfew and shutdown in Kashmir following the killing of Hizb commander Burhan Wani last July. The widespread use of pellet guns by government forces had left thousands wounded and several including a 12-year old boy from Srinagar dead, drawing condemnation from rights groups.

“Pellet-firing shotguns, which have been responsible for blinding, killing and traumatizing hundreds of people in Kashmir, must be immediately banned,” Amnesty International had said in a report– “Losing Sight in Kashmir: The Impact of Pellet-Firing Shotguns”– in September.

“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.”

(Featured photo: An eight-year-old pellet victim from Khanabal area of Kashmir’s Anantnag district is pictured writhing in pain at the SMHS Hospital in Srinagar last year. / Kashmir Reader)

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