SRINAGAR: Much touted deflectors used by security forces in their pellet guns have failed to stop the blinding of civilians in Kashmir even as the government said it was working on ‘restraint from both sides.’ Two people have lost both their eyes to pellet injuries in the past one week.
On Friday, a 50 year old man from Srinagar was brought to SMHS Hospital with pellets fired in his both eyes by security forces, injuries that may cause him total loss of vision. As per doctors at the hospital, pellets had injured optic nerve in one of his eyes and perforated the other.
Earlier this week, a 17 year old boy was injured at Pulwama in both his eyes, causing grievous injuries and loss of vision. At least six more were injured in eyes the same day.
Even with ‘most pellet guns fitted with deflectors’, a combination that was touted to bring an end to mass scale eye injuries, this so-called non-lethal weapon has continued to cause blindings. CRPF, that introduced deflectors in June this year, blamed “situation on ground” for the pellet induced blindings.
“Most of the injured are those who had rushed to encounter sites. And above all there is a difference in a static target and the situation on ground,” CRPF Spokesman Rajesh Yadav said. He added, “At times our men fire while running away from stones” implying that it was not possible to take a “position” while firing in such situation.
CRPF refused to accept that deflectors fitted to pellet guns had failed. “Deflectors have not failed. The fault lies in the positioning of stone pelters. They duck when pellets are fired,” Yadav said.
On the other hand, the parleys of government with forces meant to bring about restraint in the use of force on protesters have also not yielded any halt in vision-impairing eye injuries. However, the state government on Saturday said that number of such incidents had “decreased considerably.”
Spokesperson for J&K government, Naeem Akhtar, said that it would require changes on “both sides” for eye injuries to stop.
“We are putting in intensive efforts to decrease the intensity of violence by protestors as well as increase the restraint by forces,” he said while speaking to Greater Kashmir. “Insha Allah time will come when pellet guns would not be needed at all,” he said.
In the past one year, pellet guns have injured over 8000 people in Kashmir, around 1050 of them in eyes. At least 72 have lost vision in both eyes due to these injuries. State government has many times publicly asked security forces to minimise use of pellet guns, especially to avoid eye injuries. In August last year, government of India had also announced that alternatives to pellet guns would be explored and brought in as weapons of crowd control and that pellet guns would be “phased out”.
At least 14 people have also been killed due to injuries caused by pellet guns to head and/or vital organs since July 9 last year.__GK News