After lathis rain on Jallikkattu protesters, Kashmir pellet victims ask: Will pellets be used only in Valley?
Two weeks ago, the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had announced an ex gratia relief of Rs 5 lakh in favour of the next of kin of those killed during the unrest
On chilly Sunday morning, a clutch of youngsters, donning sunglasses appeared at the Press Enclave in Srinagar. They held banners which identified them as the J&K Pellet Victims Association.
“Attention world, we want justice,” the banner read.
“We have formed this Association to help ourselves and bring attention to our plight,” Altaf Ahmad, one of the victims holding the banner said while thanking people for extending their support. “We are not here to complain but for to fight for justice”.
Srinagar’s leading SMHS hospital received hundreds of pellet cases over the 5-month unrest. The number of people hit and the seriousness of their injuries surpasses anything witnessed in the past. As per the records available with SMHS and SKIMS Medical College, the number of the people hit in the eye by the pellets during unrest is at around 1130, most of them youth and the teenagers. Fourteen people have lost their lives after being hit by the pellets, one of them a Bank ATM guard who was shot at close range by the unidentified security personnel while returning home from his job.
The pellet gun, according to the doctors, has caused vision impairment to around one thousand people and injured a massive 7136 people in other parts of the body. Several hundred of them have only a “perception of light”. Insha Malik, one of them was completely blinded. The picture of her disfigured, pellet-riddled face has become the symbol of the ongoing turmoil
Two weeks ago, the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had announced an ex gratia relief of Rs 5 lakh in favour of the next of kin of those killed during the unrest. She said possibilities of providing jobs would also be explored in cases of extreme compassion. The Chief Minister also announced Government jobs for the persons “who lost their eyesight during the unrest”.
At the protest, Ahmad described the pathetic plight of the pellet victims.
“Our eyesight has been snatched. Losing eyesight means losing everything in life. Now, we are dependent. We need help for everything. We cannot read and write, cannot go out or walk on the road without help,” he said.
The Association also demanded a ban on the use of the pellet guns and bemoaned the use of the weapon exclusively in Kashmir. "We have heard some of the local legislators are advocating a ban on the use of pellets in Kashmir. The fact remains unchanged, Kashmir is the only place in the world where these weapons are used against a human being,” the youth said. “Government forces have never used these pellets or pava shells in any other Indian state where people during violent protests resorted to arsons and damaged government property worth billions of rupees,” they added.
The Association also made several demands which included an end to the use of pellet guns in Kashmir, end to the harassment of pellet victims, withdrawal of false cases against youth, action under law against the security personnel responsible for snatching their eyesight, and providing the victims complete assistance for complete treatment in regaining their vision.