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Pellet wounds found on some offarmers injured at protest sites: Medical reports

ByKaram Prakash, Patiala
Feb 23, 2024 09:02 AM IST

The MLR reports of several injured farmers state that pellet injuries were found on their face and forehead too

Wounds caused by metal pellets were found on the upper body of several injured farmers, according to medico-legal reports (MLR) issued by hospitals in Patiala, which HT has seen.

Police fire tear gas to disperse protesting farmers at Shambhu border on Wednesday. (PTI)

The reports contradict contentions by Haryana director general of police (DGP) Shatrujeet Kapur, who denied the use of pellet guns, and said the Haryana police was using minimum force to control the agitating farmers on the Punjab-Haryana interstate borders.

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Pellets, which are less than 3mm in diameter, are fired from shotguns and are usually of two kinds: bare metal pellets and rubber-coated metal pellets. These are usually used by the Army and paramilitary as a crowd-control measure, and as a practice, are aimed mostly on lower limbs. But the MLR reports of several injured farmers state that pellet injuries were found on their face and forehead too.

The disclosures come at a time when farmer groups, gathered in thousands at the Haryana-Punjab border crossings at Shambhu and Khanauri have paused their protests after the death of a 21-year-old protester at the latter. The death prompted farmer unions to announce new agitations on Friday and next month, when they plan to hold a mahapanchayat in Delhi.

An MLR report, drafted by a physician, is considered the written evidence for legal proceedings.

In one of the MLRs, issued at Rajpura Civil Hospital, it was mentioned that pellets were found on the dorsal (back), forehead and index finger of an injured farmer. The patient, according to the report, was referred to the hospital from Shambhu protest site.

A doctor at Rajpura civil hospital told HT that metal pellets were removed from the body of one of the patients. In another MLR, issued at Government Rajindra Hospital, Patiala, it was mentioned that pellets had caused multiple abrasions on the upper body of a patient brought from Khanauri. “Some of the pellets (made of metal) had gone deep inside the body. We could remove only the superficial ones,” said a surgeon at Government Rajindra Hospital.

A similar MLR of a patient from Khanauri, issued at Rajindra, reads, “Multiple punctured lacerated wounds of size 0.3x0.2cm were present on the left thigh.” The report further highlights that the patient was injured on the Khanauri border during farmers’ protest due to firearm injury.

A senior doctor of the ophthalmology (eye) department of Government Rajindra Hospital, pleading anonymity, said “A metal pellet had perforated the cornea of one of the patients. Even the X-ray of the injured eye showed it was a pellet.”

Dr HS Rekhi, medical superintendent, Government Rajindra Hospital, while talking to HT, said, “There were many cases of farmers who had suffered pellet injuries. We are issuing MLRs to keep a record of all injured farmers.”

Special DGP (law and order), Punjab, Arpit Shukla said that the pellet gun is usually a part of anti-riot equipment. “These are used for crowd control. If hit from a close range, pellets can prove fatal,” he said.

When asked about the MLRs of injured farmers that showed pellet injury, the special DGP said, “I have received information that only tear gas shells and rubber bullets have been used against the farmers. I will get more details on this.”

A senior Haryana Police officer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said: “We are aware of the development but have not received a formal report. We are looking into the matter and a probe already underway.”

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