At least six people have been killed due to injuries caused by pellet guns in the ongoing Kashmir turmoil — the latest one being 20-year-old Naseer Ahmad of Anantnag on Wednesday — even as the state government justified the use of the weapon in high court.
The 12 bore pump action gun (or the pellet gun) has come under criticism from civil society over its use in crowd control in Kashmir and, consequently, responsible for killing, blinding and maiming people. Earlier this week, home minister Rajnath Singh said that 1,000 PAVA shells — an alternative to pellets guns — have arrived in the Valley.
In a written reply to the court, the Jammu and Kashmir government on Tuesday said that pellet guns are sparingly used when all other modes of crowd control, like teargas and lathicharge, have failed to disperse the mob.
“The pellet gun is a modern method to deal with crowd, particularly agitating mobs, who resort to heavy stone pelting, rioting, arson, at the instigation of militants and separatists with the intention of causing loss to life of police personnel and those of security forces, besides the public and private property,” the government’s reply, signed by the director general of police (DGP), reads.
Hospital records accessed by HT show that most pellet victims with eye injuries are teenagers. Data procured from the ophthalmology department of Srinagar’s SMHS hospital show that the maximum number of pellet victims — 247 — admitted in the last 60 days belong to the 16-20 years age group. Thirty teenagers, younger than 15 years, were treated.
In the 21-25 age group, 228 pellet victims were treated in the hospital, 66 were treated in the 26-30 age group while 22 was the number of patients in the 30-40 year category.
Around 84% of the pellet victims treated at SMHS are below 25 years of age.
Authorities at the other important hospital here, Sher-I-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS), said 123 pellet victims with various levels of injuries were treated at the hospital.