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Pellet gun victims stage protest in Srinagar

Updated February 20, 2018

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Pellet gun victims in India-held Kashmir protest to call attention to their plight in Srinagar. ─ AFP
Pellet gun victims in India-held Kashmir protest to call attention to their plight in Srinagar. ─ AFP

The Jammu and Kashmir Pellet Victims Association staged a protest at Srinagar's Press Enclave in India-held Kashmir on Tuesday, Radio Pakistan reported.

The group, a gathering of victims of pellet guns fired by Indian security forces in held Kashmir, is protesting against the absence of a comprehensive plan for their treatment, due to which many of them have been driven to desperation

They said some non-governmental organisations have been pocketing money collected from people for the welfare of pellet victims.

The victims urged others to come forward and help them stop misuse of donations.

Pellet gun victim Muhammad Ashraf Wani said that there are many people and some NGOs which are minting money off the plight of the victims.

Wani added that people had also stopped helping pellet gun victims since there is a perception among the masses that they receive compensation and jobs from the IHK government, which is not true.

The Indian police claim that pellet guns are non-lethal weapons, but according to the Kashmir Blind Spot Campaign, the use of the gun — normally reserved for hunting animals — has resulted in more than 69 deaths and hundreds of cases of blindness resulting from pellet injuries.

Rights group Amnesty International has called on India to immediately ban the use of shotguns by government forces in suppressing anti-India protests in IHK.

It has also criticised Indian authorities for failing to support those who have been injured and disabled by the weapons.

Amnesty's India chapter head Aakar Patel said last year: "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."

Patel said shotguns had caused immense suffering in Kashmir and are not used anywhere else in India.

"This weapon has only been reserved for Kashmiris," he had noted. "It is irresponsible of authorities to continue the use of these shotguns despite being aware of the damage they do."

The group issued a report, ‘Losing Sight in Kashmir: The Impact of Pellet-Firing Shotguns’, which profiles 88 people whose eyesight was damaged by metal pellets fired by Indian forces between 2014 and 2017, showcasing what it called the "human cost of the [Indian] government’s heavy-handed crackdown in [India-held] Kashmir". The report includes the stories of 14 female victims who were wounded inside their homes.

"These inherently inaccurate shotguns fire hundreds of metal pellets which spread over a wide area," the report said.

"Authorities have a duty to maintain public order, but using pellet shotguns is not the solution," Patel said.

"Security forces must address stone-throwing or other violence by protesters by means that allow for better targeting or more control over the harm caused."