“Their use has blinded hundreds and killed at least 14 people since July 2016”
Amnesty International India released its report, ‘Losing Sight in Kashmir: The Impact of Pellet-Firing Shotguns‘, in Srinagar on September 13. The report briefly dwells into the lives of pellet victims and presents the cases of 88 people whose eyesight has been damaged by metal pellets fired from pump-action shotguns used extensively by the Jammu and Kashmir Police (JKP) and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) between 2014 and 2017.
The pellet victims include a number of men, dozens of women and a majority of children.
Amnesty in its briefing notices that the “effects of these weapons will be felt for years to come” and the lives of the victims “have changed entirely, and they are struggling to cope.”
The shotguns “use cartridges containing about 500 pellets, which resemble ball bearings. There is no way to control the trajectory or direction of the pellets, whose effects are therefore indiscriminate.”
The young school-going boys and girls present a grim picture of the tragedy. With a life to look forward to, the Amnesty report briefly narrates how, the victims themselves don’t see a future at all.
Asif Ahmad Sheikh (9)
Class 5 student, Anantnag
Asif was hit with pellets on July 21, 2016. He has a loss of vision in his right eye.
“Watching cartoons on TV, playing with my friends on the street, reading books for hours – this is what I dream of now.”
Bilal Ahmed Dar (15)
Class 9 student, Shopian
Bilal was shot with pellets of September 4, 2016. He has a partial loss of vision in one eye.
“I was walking from our house to our cattle-shed when I was hit by pellets in my eye and face.”
Insha Mushtaq (15)
Class 9 Student, Shopian
Insha was hit with pellets on July 11, 2016, and lost vision in both her eyes.
“I was at my home when I was hit by hundreds of pellets, mostly on my face. They even went inside my mouth. I want the forces who fired the pellets to be punished, but I know the state does not care. I have no faith in their system.”
Firdous Ahmad Kumar (16)
Class 9 student, Baramulla
Hit with pellets on 29 July 2016, Firdous has a loss of vision in his left eye.
“At one hospital, there was no space left in the ophthalmology wards, so I was sent back home and told to return after some days.”
Tawseef Ahmed Khwaja (19)
Class 12 student, Kupwara
Tawseef was hit with pellets on August 12, 2016. He suffered a loss of vision in his left eye.
“After the first surgery, I regained some vision in my eye. But after the second and third surgery, I lost all vision.”
Ulfat Hameed (17)
Class 10 student, Baramulla
Ulfat was hit by pellets on October 2, 2016, and has loss of vision in her left eye.
“I used to teach sewing and tailoring to girls in my village, but not anymore. Because of the injuries, I couldn’t write my class 10 board exam.”
Umair Hameed Ganie (15)
Class 9 student, Baramulla
Umair was sprayed with pellets on 14 July 2016 and has temporary damage to his left eye.
“My memory isn’t so good anymore, and I have nightmares. I can’t even go out and play in the sun.”
Aquib Ahmad Parra (17)
Hit with pellets in both his eyes on August 9, 2016. Has partial loss of vision in both his eyes.
“Playing cricket or any outdoor games is no longer possible for me. I can’t see things clearly.”
Take action, petition supporting Amnesty’s campaign on banning pellet guns in Kashmir: https://www.amnesty.org.in/action/detail/ban-pellet-shotguns
Read more, PDF download ‘Losing Sight in Kashmir’:
Copyright of all photographs and quotes used remain with Amnesty International India.