Two teenagers injured in Kashmir were hit by pellets fired by security forces, officials said on Monday, as the controversial weapon was thrust into the spotlight again after fresh violence rocked the militancy-hit valley.
Two civilians, two soldiers and four militants were killed in south Kashmir’s Kulgam on Sunday in the biggest encounter in the valley in several months, triggering massive protests by villagers against the killing of the civilians.
One of the two killed was hit in crossfire between security forces and militants. The other suffered injuries when security forces fired on protesters and died in a hospital.
A doctor at the SMHS hospital in Srinagar said one of the injured, Samir (18), has pellet injuries in one of his eyes while the other, Aqib (16), also suffered “minor injuries” in the eyes.
Pellet guns, a so-called non-lethal weapon used by security forces in Kashmir, had become a weapon of revulsion after hundreds of people, most of them children, were injured during a month-long uprising in the valley after militant commander Burhan Wani was shot dead by police in July.
Despite widespread criticism, the Central and state governments defended the weapon – which shoots tiny lead pellets – as crucial to the fight against militants and refused to stop its use.
In a recent response to an RTI application, the CRPF refused to divulge details on the use of pellet guns in controlling mobs during the summer unrest, fanning public anger.
A shutdown called by separatist groups in protest against the killings hit life across the valley with markets in Srinagar remaining closed and private vehicles staying off the roads.
The valley’s joint separatist leadership -- Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik – has also called for a march to Kulgam on Wednesday against the killings.