Kashmiris are no strangers to pain and agony. In fact being inhabitants of a conflict zone, tragedy, horror and agony are a daily part of our lives as are protests, which as per the Constitution of India is every citizen’s right. But for Kashmiris, this right has proven to be a harbinger of death and ‘Non-lethal’ weapons have proven to be far more dangerous than actual bullets and bombs. The use of pellet guns which was employed by the State as a part of riot control gear has wounded, blinded and killed scores of youth. In last week alone, at least 1200 youth have been victims of these so called Non-lethal weapons, their lives changed forever. Team KO went to SMHS hospital today and spoke to a few of these victims, especially ones hit in the eyes. Read on to find out about their tales of horror.
After offering absentia funeral prayers held for Burhan wani, we were on our way home. We were walking quite peacefully but the forces deployed in the market started to provoke us by abusing the slain hero and his associates. So we retaliated by pelting stones as emotions were running very high. As soon as we picked up stones, they opened fire on us directly. Most of us got severely injured.
— Amir Lone, MBA Student,Kupwara
We were protesting peacefully without shouting any provocative slogans or pelting stones but as soon as we reached Anantnag Chowk, police aimed and fired a number of tear gas shells as well as pellets directly at us. If their intention wasn’t to kill, why would they have fired directly at us?
— Ulfat Hussain, Driver, Anantnag
I was returning home from my tuitions. There were some clashes going on near my house and as soon as I reached the main gate of my house, a policeman showered a volley of pellets directly onto my face. I fell down in pain and the next thing I remember is waking up in the hospital.
— Mohammad Imran, 10th class student, Kulgam
I had gone to the market to buy some essential commodities. But as I heard that intense clashes were going on in the market, I thought it was better to return home as I didn’t want to be caught amidst the clashes. While I was heading home, I heard a sound similar to bursting of a firecracker. As soon as I turned around, a policeman in a “Rakshak” gipsy pointed his gun at me and showered me with pellets. For a moment it felt like hot sand had pierced my eyes.
— Umar Rashid, Labourer, Anantnag
I was near my windows watching the ongoing clashes between the youth and the paramilitary forces. As I saw policemen showering pellets on protesters, I quickly tried to move away from my window but was hit in the left eye by a pellet. It left like I was going to die. I was in complete agony. Now I can’t see clearly from my left eye.
— Shabir Ahmad , Shopkeeper, Pulwama
My younger brother and I were cutting wood for domestic purposes outside our house. We saw a group of protesters being chased by the forces but they failed to catch them. Fuming with anger, they pointed their guns towards us and started firing blindly. Both my eyes are damaged due to pellet injuries. I will never be able to see anything now.
— Irshad Ahmad , Student, Pulwama
We were protesting against Burhan’s killing and were marching towards the market. As we reached there, we saw that the paramilitary forces were already stationed there, there guns ready and pointed at us. They started firing indiscriminately at us.I can’t explain in words how I felt when I was hit by the pellets. The pain is beyond any words.
— Aasif Jeelani ,12th class Student, Tral
We were enjoying a swim in a nearby river when we saw protesters being chased by the forces. They fired at them from a very close range and in the process, we too got hurt. Although we were rushed quickly to SKIMS for treatment in an ambulance, the CRPF stopped the ambulance and broke its window panes. They didn’t let us leave until we shouted pro-Indian and anti-Pakistani slogans. We were forced to say “Hindustan Zindabad”, “Pakistan Murdabad”.
— Jehangir Bhat,Bussinessman , Lassipora Pulwama
C.R.P.F personals barged into our house and fired pellets on me and my family. I was hit in both my eyes and everyone in my family got injured. It felt as if I had been given an electric shock. I am totally blind now.
— Aamir Akbar shah , 10th class Student, Pattan
I have lost my eye sight due to being hit by pellets. I appeal to CM, Mehbooba Mufti to stop the use of pellet guns. When voting for her, we had hoped for a change but instead she turned out to be just like her fellow politicians-ruthless and only concerned about herself.
— Riyaz Ahmad ,Shopkeeper
I was on my way to buy medicines for my mother who suffers from hypertension. There were no clashes or protests going on but as the policemen saw me, one of them pointed his gun at me. I tried to run but the pellets pierced my back. It has been four days since and despite treatment, I am still in agony.
— Umar Qadir ,Driver, Srinagar
Some clashes were going on between the police and the protesters in our area. Suddenly we heard a loud bang and my brother fell down, crying loudly. When I looked at him, I saw both his eyes had been hit by pellets. I didn’t know what to do. I just stood there, tears rolling down my face.
— Kamran Muzaffar ,Pulwama
As soon as we heard about the death of Burhan Wani, we became very emotional and in order to pay tribute to the slain hero, we took out a rally and started marching towards the main town. As soon as we reached the main town, forces started firing indiscriminately. My left eye was hit by pellets. It felt like someone had sprayed hot red chilli powder into my eyes. I couldn’t see anything. I was in complete agony.