srariq

|| S.TARIQ (ANANTNAG)

            The Kashmir-issue has been politicized by almost all political parties, domestic as well as national, as per their need and as part of vote harvesting tactics. More than 1.25 lakh deaths have taken place in Kashmir since 1989 when armed agitation broke out in Jammu and Kashmir. The killing of Hizbul Mujahedeen top commander Burhan Muzafer Wani on July 8 triggered a fresh unrest in Kashmir with at least 50 people including children and women getting killed in the action by the forces on the protestors while another 3000 persons have got injured. More than hundred youth have eye injuries which resulted in their complete or partial loss of vision as the forces are using, which the Indian union describe as “non-lethal weapon”, Pellet guns on the protestors.

      The use of pellet guns resulted in the serious eye injuries to more than 100 youth including a few females and children, which as per the doctors, has resulted in their partial or complete sight loss, making their lives worst. The Pellet guns have now became a new hot political issue among various political parties including the central government run by BJP, which is ruling the disputed state in coalition with the PDP. The pellet guns were introduced by the state police in 2010 when more than 100 people were killed during the protests. Fourteen-year-old Irshad Ahmad Parray and 20-year-old Mudasir Nazir have lost their lives to pellet gun injuries during the ongoing protests apart from 10 victims of 2010 unrest. One cartridge of a pellet gun contains around 250 to 350 pellets which are like ball bearings, very tiny in circumference.

While on one hand Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, during his recent visit to Kashmir, said that forces should exercise maximum from using the pellet guns, on the other hand, the DIG CRPF has said that they will continue the use of the pellet guns and described it as a “most effective nonlethal weapon”.

      The moment it is fired, the cartridge bursts and immediately throws hundreds of pellet from a single point in different directions. Although it was believed that the pellets are only round shaped but doctors at SMHS hospital Srinagar say there are different kinds of pellets. They said that recently they have come across sharp edged and more irregular pellets. “For the first time we have seen the foreign bodies (pellets) which are more irregular edged hence causing more damage,” said a senior Ophthalmologist at SHMS.

      Pellets penetrate the skin’s soft tissues, and eye being the delicate structure is the most vulnerable to this lethal weapon. Once the pellet goes inside an eye it shatters tissues and causes multiple damages to all parts of the eye. As per the doctors pellets have been removed from some patients and in most of the cases doctors say the pellets can’t be removed. Some patients make a good recovery, but in most of the cases the patients fail to regain vision. No case has been reported so far in which the doctors successfully restored full vision of pellet victim. Such a fatal impact of the pellet guns has put a question mark on their use as crowd control tool. Is it really the “best non-lethal weapon” and has it no alternative? This time when pellets have ruined lives of thousands of youth in Kashmir, political parties are seen busy in making it a tool to do politics with.

The ruling PDP in February 2014 created uproar in the assembly over use of pellet guns in South Kashmir districts. That time the PDP President Mehbooba Mufti (now the Chief Minister) attacked the then chief minister Omar Abdullah for continuing with its “brute pellet gun policy to render Kashmiri youth without eyesight.’ But, after coming to power the PDP has failed to stop the use of pellet guns in Kashmir

       The statement of the union home minister Rajnath Singh in the parliament that they will set up a committee which will recommend other options of non-lethal weapon is nothing but a politically loaded statement. Such politics by the ruling BJP has taken Kashmir issue P Chidambaram, who was Union Home Minister in 2010 when the pellet guns were introduced in Kashmir, is now describing it as a lethal weapon and is demanding ban on its use. Both National Conference and Congress are blaming the present governments for the use of pellet guns, forgetting they allowed the use of the weapon in Kashmir at the first place. to a different direction which is far from the basic root cause of the conflict.

        The need of the time is to put an immediate ban on the pellet guns and to address the Kashmir issue as to put a full stop on the unrest and to prevent further human loss. While on one hand Rajnath Singh, during his recent visit to Kashmir said that CRPF men exercise maximum from using the pellet guns, on the other hand the DIG CRPF has said that they will continue the use of the pellet guns and described it as a “most effective non-lethal weapon”. Mainstream and separatist leadership have always raised their voice against using of pellet guns. The ruling PDP in February 2014 created uproar in the assembly over use of pellet guns in South Kashmir districts.

        That time the PDP President Mehbooba Mufti (now the Chief Minister) attacked the then chief minister Omar Abdullah for continuing with its “brute pellet gun policy to render Kashmiri youth without eyesight.’ But, after coming to power the PDP has failed to stop the use of pellet guns in Kashmir. “We disapprove of it… but we will have to persist with this necessary evil till we find a non lethal alternative,” J&K Government spokesperson and Education Minister Nayeem Akhtar said recently.

P Chidambaram, who was union home minister in 2010 when the pellet guns were introduced, is now describing it as a lethal weapon and is demanding its ban. Both National Conference and Congress are blaming the present governments for the use of pellet guns, forgetting that they allowed the use of the weapon in Kashmir at the first place.

         This type of politics, once again reveals that India is non- serious in resolving the Kashmir, which is a most sensitive issue for maintenance of the peace in this part of the world. The need of the hour is to address the issue as per UN resolutions while engaging all stakeholders. Both state as well as centre governments should think out of the box while taking the situation of the Kashmir into consideration. The brutal and untamed use of pellet guns on the unarmed youth will only increase the agony and resentment.

(Author can be reached atstariq92@gmail.com).