19 men injured by pellets may lose vision

Of the 87 civilians brought to the SMHS hospital alone, 40 had suffered pellet injuries in their eyes.

Updated - December 04, 2021 10:59 pm IST

Published - July 10, 2016 10:37 pm IST - SRINAGAR:

An injured man at the SMHS hospital in Srinagar on Sunday. — Photo: Nissar Ahmad

An injured man at the SMHS hospital in Srinagar on Sunday. — Photo: Nissar Ahmad

Every 45 minutes, an ambulance with injured persons arrives at the Sri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) hospital. Youths quickly slide out of the vehicles shouting “Allah Hu Akbar”, carrying men with grave injuries into the premises.

In the past 24 hours, about 87 such cases have arrived in the hospital and most of them have been injured by one common weapon — a pellet gun.

From the State and Central government’s perspective, a pellet gun is a “non-lethal” weapon. But since the killing of top Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani triggered unrest across Kashmir, the police and the paramilitary forces have severely injured over 100 protesters with pellet guns.

Of the 87 civilians brought to the SMHS hospital alone, 40 had suffered pellet injuries in their eyes.

Speaking to The Hindu , Dr. Kaisar Ahmed, the head of SMHS hospital, said 19 of them were likely to go blind in the coming days.

“Two people have had their eye globes entirely shattered and others have suffered severe damage,” said Mr. Ahmed.

“At this stage it’s hard to say whether they can sustain their vision. Once we reduce their inflammation, we will have to operate them.”

Lying on the bed in Ward Eight of the hospital, 17-year-old Showkat Ahmed of Kellar village of Pulwama district said he felt like his head was on fire when pellets hit his eyes.

“I thought my head will explode and I fainted. People say I threw up a lot,” Mr. Ahmed told The Hindu .

Pellet guns meant to avoid fatalities

After Kashmir’s summer unrest of 2010 which claimed the lives of 112 protesters in police firing, the Congress-led government at the Centre deployed pellet guns as a “non-lethal” measure to avoid civilian fatalities.

A senior J&K police officer with expertise in ballistics told The Hindu that Israel was the first country to use pellet guns as an anti-riot cover against the Palestinian protesters. Explaining how it works, the officer said, a single pellet gun cartridge carries 500 pieces of tiny metal laced with gun powder.

On pulling the trigger, the gun sprays the hot metal pieces haphazardly.

“If you are within the 10-metre range you can get fatally injured,” the officer said.

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