PAVA smoke sickens Kashmir

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Srinagar: For the past over a week middle-aged Nasir Khan is suffering from severe chest congestion and is unable to recover despite medication. It all started on the day, when government forces fired PAVA shells on protesters near his residence here.

Though Khan was not among the protesters and sitting back at his home, he couldn’t escape the lung-choking smoke of the PAVA as it griped the entire locality near Kak Sarai here leaving scores of inhabitants sick, something which started with coughing.

The doctors at the SMHS Hospital said there has been sudden surge in chest ailments and respiratory tract infection cases, which they attributed to the use of PAVA shells by government forces on protesters.

“Most of the worst affected are children and elderly while this smoke is simply deadly for asthma or cardiac patients,” said a medico at the hospital adding when ever such shelling occurs in the vicinity even the hospital suffers.

“Condition of our own patients deteriorates whereas we too feel festering discomfort  due to this shelling,” the doctor told Kashmir Observer.

 For the people of the congested old City the use of PAVA gives them the feeling of “life in gas chambers when dictator Hitler ruled Germany.”

“Every evening we are pushed to gas chambers when PAVA shells explode outside our homes. Believe me my bed-ridden grandmother faints every evening and it takes her three -four hours to recover,” said Sahil Ahmed whose grandma lives near volatile Nowhatta.

While use of pepper gas had already chocked Kashmir for years, use of more effective PAVA has only worsened the public woes, more so for the people who are no party to any protests.

 

While use of pepper gas had already chocked Kashmir for years, use of more effective PAVA has only worsened the public woes, more so for the people who are no party to any protests.

Two years back, Valley’s super-specialty Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences Soura here had conducted a study over use of such a gas as riot control measure.

A team of medicos led by noted physician Dr Parvaiz Koul had tabled a study. As per the expert paper by Dr Koul, “We fielded a questionnaire-based survey of 500 bystanders exposed to gas… Of 294 non-combatants who consented to participate in our survey, 97 per cent developed cough and irritation of the throat within few seconds of breathing the pungent smelling gas.”

“They reported respiratory problems, dermatologic symptoms, sleep disturbances, and mood changes with varying frequency. Sixteen reported exacerbations of underlying respiratory disorders, with one temporally related to death. Symptoms led 51 to get medical attention. Nearly all respondents reported that symptoms recurred on re-exposure,” the study states.

“We conclude that use of pepper grenades can cause serious acute symptoms in non-combatants accidentally exposed. We recommend alternate methods of riot control,” the study states.

 

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While this was the expert observation was on the use of pepper gas, the more severe PAVA, recently introduced  in Kashmir is yet to be studied. But it obviously feared to have more drawbacks. “It’s quite obvious that the study on PAVA if ever allowed by the government will have more alarming results because this gas is more effective than pepper,” said a medico.

Unmindful of the problems faced by the people, the Mehbooba Mufti led government has asked New Delhi to further improve the efficacy of the PAVA shells.

Weeks after forces in Kashmir started use of PAVA shells as an alternative for dealing with the ongoing unrest in Kashmir, the state authorities have asked its manufacturers to make “improvement” in the weapon following complaints about their “low efficacy”.

Weeks after forces in Kashmir started use of PAVA shells as an alternative for dealing with the ongoing unrest in Kashmir, the state authorities have asked its manufacturers to make “improvement” in the weapon following complaints about their “low efficacy

After outcry over continued use of pellet guns which caused extensive damage to the eyes of youth, a 7-member panel including officials from Union Home Ministry cleared chilli-filled PAVA shells as “non-lethal” alternative weapon for “dispersing” protestors in Kashmir.

A senior police official said both police and CRPF have started using shells in many districts including Srinagar.

But, according to the official “certain issues” including “poor emission” and those related to effectiveness of the shells have been reported and the “same has been communicated to the higher ups.”

A first consignment of 1000 PAVA shells was sent for use in Kashmir by the forces in first week of September, exactly a day ahead of the visit of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh led All Party delegation to the regions. 

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