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Kashmir unrest: 1.3 million pellet guns used in 32 days

By Newsd
Updated on :

It’s been more than a month since Kashmir reamains paralysed by a wave of protests erupted in the wake of killing of Burhan Wani, the Hizbul Mujaheedin commander. Hundreds have been injured and according to an official data, 66 people have died in clashes between security forces and protestors.

The latest addition in the toll was of an ambulance driver who was shot at in Srinagar’s Safa Kadal locality on Thursday night. The driver was ferrying a patient to the SMHS hospital, the only one which is treating patients with pellet injuries. He was allegedly hit by pellets fired by security forces and managed to drive to the hospital despite having bone injury. This has further aggravated situation in strife-torn Kashmir with locals carrying out even more protests. A few hours before his death, a research scholar was allegedly beaten to death by the armed forces the same day in Pulwama district.

Such incidents are a common ‘news’ every day in Kashmir which continues to bear the brunt of failed political policies since its inception. The locals have time and again alleged atrocities by the armed forced and the latter have cited ‘infiltration’ and ‘unrest’ as the cause behind the measures resorted by them to disperse protestors and maintain ‘peace’ in the area.

After much outrage over the use of pellet guns which rendered more than 400 youth injured in the eye, with most of them suffering complete loss of vision, the government was forced to intervene and asked the army to “resort to alternatives” for this “non-lethal” weapon. Finally, it seems that the armed forced have an authority to answer for the rising death toll and blinding caused in the region as the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) told the Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Thursday that it used 1.3 million pellets in 32 days in Kashmir to control street protests.

The response came after a petition was filed seeking a ban on pellet guns was filed in the Jammu and Kashmir High Court and the CRPF wrote in its affidavit that “it was difficult to follow the standard operating procedure (SOP) given the nature of the protests.” It said 3,000 pellet cartridges, or around 1.3 million pellets, were fired from the pump action guns.

The force also put forward its “dilemma” that even though the weapon had been listed as “non-lethal” in 2010, in case the court asks us to withdraw it, “The CRPF would have no recourse in extreme situations but to open fire with rifles, which may cause more fatalities.” The CRPF said it has used 14 types of “less lethal and non-lethal” munitions to control crowds, including oleo-resin grenades, pepper balls, stun grenades and electric shells.

According to the CRPF Inspector General, 8,650 tear-smoke shells were used from July 8 to August 11. ”Around 2,671 plastic pellets have been used too,” he said. The CRPF, while admitting that the weapon should be aimed below the waist, argued that “the situation prevailing on the streets during the ongoing law and order incident is dynamic and mobile.”