On July 8, Burhan Muzaffarabad Wani, a 22-year old Kashmiri, was killed in custody by Indian soldiers in a small village Kokernag in Indian Occupied Kashmir.
On the morning of July 9, Burhan‟s body was brought to a vast open ground in Tral, his hometown, and people started attending his funeral. About three hundred thousand people attended the funeral throughout the day.
On the same day, protests across the Kashmir erupted against his custodial killing but these peaceful protests were responded by Indian troops with excessive use of force, indiscriminate firing, including indiscriminate pellet guns firing, torture, summary executions, arrest and detention.
Only in two days (9-10th July 2016), 30 Kashmiris were killed and thousands were injured by indiscriminate bullets - direct firing including pellet firing on protestors head, heart and chests.
In Occupied Kashmir Indian forces are trampling underfoot the fundamental freedoms of the Kashmiri people with complete impunity. Peaceful protests continue throughout Kashmir and Indian forces responded these protests with brutal excessive use of force. The extrajudicial killings is a blatant violation of the right to life, right to freedom of expression and opinion, right to peaceful protest, right to peaceful assembly and other rights.
PELLET FIRING AT VITAL PARTS OF BODY PROVED LETHAL
The use of lethal force by Indian forces on protestors, more than 76 civilians have lost their lives, whereas 6800 have been injured, 700 are in critical condition. As a result of the use of pellet guns, more than 250 people are now visually impaired. These concerns have been widely shared by the international community and human rights activists including Indian based groups. Indian daily newspaper „The Hindu‟ notes editorially that Indian security forces have been firing pellets from 12-bore guns (Repeater Guns). Police around the world have been trained to aim for below the knee. The idea is that the pain caused by the pellets, usually made of rubber, acts as a deterrent without maiming or causing serious life-inhibiting injuries. Theoretically, it sounds viable. The reality that‟s obtained in Kashmir from July 9th, 2016 is totally different. Indian forces have deliberately fired bullets and pellets above the knee. Patients in hospitals provide evidence to the effect that the firing had been aimed at head or heart of the protestors.
A division bench of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court at Srinagar asked the Government, “why people had suffered injuries above the knees and their eyes were damaged. Court further asked the government to review the use of pellet guns which has proven to be lethal. “Can‟t you explore other methods using water, using teargas shell or whatever you have instead of this (pellets)
because now by experience it has proven to be lethal,” the court told the government. “These are your own people. They have anger. They are protesting. It doesn‟t mean they should be rendered disable.” The High Court further said, “Pellet gun is being used indiscriminately. Maximum people have suffered injuries in eyes and other vital parts of the body.” Ghulam Muhammad Sofi, an ambulance driver, who was bringing patients from Ganderbal to a Srinagar hospital late on Thursday 18.08.2016 evening, had a miraculous escape when Central Reserve Police Force men fired pellets at him in Safakadal area here, causing serious injuries to him. A senior doctor at the B&J hospital Srinagar, who treated 32-year old Sofi, said more than 200 pellets had pierced his right arm and shoulder. “The severity of the injury shows that the pellets have been fired from a very close range and he (Sofi) had lost lot of blood,” said the doctor.
As per the official report prepared by Directorate of Health (Kashmir), at least 25 drivers working with the Department have been thrashed by forces during the past 42 days. The Directorate has suffered damage to 150 ambulances in attacks, during this period.
Ambulance drivers have been attacked and subjected to pellet firing by police and paramilitary personnel on the way while carrying the injured. Scores of ambulances from different districts arrived with window panes and glass shields broken. Aamir Latoo of Bijbehera, a student who suffered a bullet injury and died Monday night, was brought in a damaged ambulance. Hospital sources said, “Had his ambulance not been attacked and not delayed, he might have survived.
Hospitals in the Indian held Kashmir have been overwhelmed with people seeking treatment for, eye pellet injuries, and the doctors of the hospitals in Kashmir have made appeals to send a team of specialists to Kashmir.
Professor Sabia Rashid of the Ophthalmology Department of SMHS Hospital Srinagar conducting the vitrectotomies of the pellet injury cases said, “all the patients who have injuries to their eyes belong to age group of eight to 30 years and more than 50 percent of all pellet victims were teenagers in the age group of eight to 15 years.
According to Hindustan Times (http://www. hindustantimes.com/india-news/kashmir-unrestpdp-leader-s-house-allegedly-attacked-in-shopian/story-zp6vwmJamejyclqXi9k6vJ.html) on 19 August 2016, An ambulance driver Gh. Mohd Sofi was shot at in Srinagar‟s Safa Kadal locality on Thursday night, who was on his way to the SMHS hospital from Kangan, managed to drive the ambulance despite a bone fracture, said a doctor. He was allegedly hit by pellets fired by security forces while ferrying a patient to the hospital.
After shooting unarmed people and mourners during street protests, the Government forces did not spare the wounded and the sick in hospitals. The forces started targeting the doctors and attendants of the patients inside the hospitals. The government forces fired teargas inside SMHS emergency and harassed the Medical staff.
Dr Aadil Ashraf, of SHMS Hospital Srinagar said four patients suffering from chronic lung disease were being managed in the emergency unit; the shelling of tear gas shells caused severe suffocation of those patients. (http://kashmirreader.com/2016/07/11/forces-fired-teargasinside-smhs-hospital-four-chronic-lung-disease-patients-suffocated-doctors-association/)
A 55-year-old lady Jameela wife of Abdur Rashid Khan of Nundresh Colony-B, Bemina., Srinagar, died of heart attack. When on Thursday evening Indian paramilitary force CRPF men stones at her house and trained guns at her.
According to her husband Abdur Rashid Khan, his wife noticed that CRPF men were throwing stones at their house. She went upstairs and opened the window. The CRPF men trained guns at her. Due to fear, she collapsed instantly and fainted. We took her to nearby SKIMS Medical College Hospital where doctors declared her brought-dead.
WHAT ARE PELLETS?
Pellet Cartridges are loaded with iron balls numbering about 500 and once fired they disperse in huge numbers. These are not plastic quoted. They don‟t follow a definite path. Pellets penetrate the skin‟s soft tissues, and eye being the delicate structure - is the most vulnerable to damage. Once the pellet goes inside an eye, it shatters tissues and causes multiple damages to all parts of the eye.
SOME PELLET VICTIMS
Doctors at SMHS hospital told that more than 50 percent of the victims hit with pellets in eyes during the on-going protests in Kashmir are teenagers.
The first Kashmiri to lose his eyesight to pellets was Amir Kabir Beigh of Towheed Gunj, old town Baramulla.
He lost both his eyes six years ago in the September 2010 protests. The young man now says God will give him justice in the form of Kashmir‟s Azadi. “It was the 18th of September 2010, evening time, when government forces fired several pellets into my eyes, near the Azad Gunj bridge near the old Baramulla hospital.
Abid Mehraj Shah is on ventilator in the SHMS hospital‟s Intensive Care Unit (ICU), unconscious since he was admitted in hospital. His pulse and blood pressure are being monitored on a screen through electrical wires attached to his body. He was protesting in Tahab area of Pulwama district. The police and CRPF burst teargas shells directly on protestors, one shell fell close to Abid and he began to run for safety. He had run hardly a few steps when he skidded on the road and fell. Then the police came near him, hit him first with gun butts and then with their legs. Hurling abuses at him, they picked him up, held him by his arms, and then another cop shot him with pellets. As per hospital records, pellets have entered his face, left eye, neck and chest.
ONE YEAR OLD BABY GIRL HIT BY INDIAN FORCES PELLET FIRING IN FATHER’S LAP INSIDE HER HOME
Six members of a family were hit by pellets in Awra village of north Kashmir‟s Kupwara district by government forces on 17th August 2016, among them were two women and 1-year-old baby.
One of the members, Nazir Ahmad Dar, 32, a government employee, has been admitted to the Ward 18 of the Ophthalmology department of SMHS hospital. A doctor who attended to him said Nazir has multiple pellet injuries in the face, neck, head, chest, back, arms and tongue.
Reports said the security forces used live ammunition and also pellets fired from shot-guns to chase away the tens of thousands of protesters who took to the streets in the valley, (BBC News 14 July, 2016)
Street hawker Tariq Ahmad Gojri, 19, lost sight in his right eye due to a pellet injury. Mr Gojri says he sustained the injury last year, when he had gone to fetch milk from a neighbour pellet firiing but had fallen a prey.
Mr Beigh sustained the injuries during an incident in north Kashmir‟s Baramulla town in September 2010. He said he was returning home when he was hit by the pellets. He has lost vision in both eyes. (BBC News 26 June 2016)
Youth injured by Indian forces pellet firing in Kakapora area of Pulwama is being treated at SMHS hospital on 19 August 2016. More than 250 persons were injured, scores of them with deadly pellets, In Ganderbal district, 41 persons were injured by Indian Army in Arhama village. The injured include 17 females and “16 among them were referred to SK Institute of Medical Sciences for treatment”, witnesses said.
Witnesses said people in large numbers assembled and held strong protest demonstrations. The RR soldiers beat up people with iron rods and gun-butts, injuring 41 persons.
Daily Hindu covered a story: Eight-year-old Junaid Ahmad on 19th July 2016 became the latest victim of „targeted fire‟ when he was shot at from close range by a pellet gun, resulting in extensive injuries to his chest. He is the latest to figure in the grim statistics showing that 14 per cent of those injured by pellets since July 9 are below the age of 15 and face complicated surgeries.
Ahmad was standing in a lane outside his house at Nawabazaar‟s Qalamdanpora area where a police Rakshak vehicle stopped at the lane and chased people assembling in the area. Ahmad
did not flee from the spot. Instead, he stood there. He was shouted at by a police man from the vehicle and then fired at without any consideration for his age, said Ahmad‟s relative at the Shri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) Hospital. Dozens of pellets hit Ahmad in the chest, with some penetrating through to his lungs. “There are multiple pellet injuries in the chest but he is showing signs of improvement,” said a doctor in the hospital.
The hospital that receives only critical patients from 10 districts and caters to the city patients, is overwhelmed with cases of pellet injuries since July 9, a day after Burhan Wani was killed.
It received 933 pellet cases till the first week of August. “We had 440 pellet patients who were hit in the eyes. Of these, 60 to 70 patients were under the age of 15,” consultant ophthalmologist at the SMHS Sajad Khanday told The Hindu. Around 40 surgeries are slated for next week.
TRAGIC: PELLETS BLIND 14-YEAR-OLD INSHA FOREVER
Victim‟s dream to be become a doctor shattered, say relatives
(http://www.greaterkashmir.com/news/kashmir/tragic-pellets-blind-14-year-old-insha-forever/222869.html) Ninth class student Insha Malik has lost vision in her left eye that was pierced by pellets fired by forces, and doctors say there are “zero chances” of the teenager regaining vision in her right eye, also badly damaged by the pellets.
14-year old Insha, one of more than 100 pellet victims, is lying unconscious in the Surgical ICU of general specialty
The doctor added: “She does not even have perception of light in the eye that she is left with.”
According to her relatives, Insha was in the first floor of her house when forces fired pellets inside their house late on Tuesday evening. “She screamed and fell unconscious and within no time her face was swollen,” recalled one of her relatives, adding: “There were no protests going on in the area.”
Insha was rushed to the hospital late in the night where doctors took her straight to the ICU.
She is being continuously monitored since. “We haven‟t admitted such a severe case in the hospital so far. The pellets have completely disfigured her face and resulted in multiple fractures and injuries in her face and skull,” said the doctor quoted above. “She is lucky that the pellets did not pierce her vessel on the neck or the airway.” Apart from the loss of vision, pellets have resulted in fracture to her frontal bone (forehead) and nasal bone, apart from fracture to her maxillary bone.
“We are ensuring that her condition remains stable. There is no treatment which can get her vision back in her eyes given the damage caused by the pellets. The pellets will remain inside her face and skull. Her fracture will heal up but the damage is done.”
Her mother sobs quietly by the side of her ICU bed as if not to wake her up. Her daughter wanted to become a doctor and was studying hard, she said, “She used to say she will have no time to play next year when she would be in Class 10th,” a relative of her said.
Doctors treating Insha said her condition was not stable and even the air-ambulance that was being offered for her could put her life at stake.
Three people were injured, one of them critically, in pellet firing by Indian forces at Batpora area of Khanabal in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district on 19 August 2016.
INTERNATIONAL CONCERN ON PELLET FIRING
India is blinding young Kashmiri protesters — and no one will face justice. The steel pellets used by police and troops are officially a „non-lethal weapon‟, but those wounded will live in partial or total darkness.
In Kashmir, Indian security forces use pellet guns that often blind protesters.
KASHMIR: HUNDREDS SUFFER EYE INJURIES FROM PELLET GUNS
Patients seek treatment in Indian-administered Kashmir after being hit by pellet guns. At
least 66 people have been killed in the almost daily anti-India protests and rolling curfews
prompted by the killing of Wani on July 8. The Central Reserve Police Force, an Indian paramilitary unit, told the Jammu and Kashmir High Court that it had used 1.3 million pellets in 32 days, adding that “it was difficult to follow the standard operating procedure given the nature of the protests”. “It is the first time I have seen so many pellet-injured people. Pellets were also used during the 2010 unrest, but this time they [government forces] are using them
on a large scale,” a doctor from Kashmir,
SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE UNITED NATIONS, BAN KI-MOON ON FRIDAY CONDEMNED THE KILLINGS OF KASHMIRI PROTESTERS BY INDIAN SECURITY FORCES IN OCCUPIED KASHMIR.
UN rights chief appeals to India and Pakistan for „full and unhindered‟ access to Kashmir
Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights,
Lt. Gen. D.S. Hooda, India’s senior military commander in an interview
have stated “Kashmir Is Slipping Away From India. As India clamps down on Kashmir with an iron grip, it risks permanently losing the hearts and minds of the people”. (http://thediplomat.com/2016/06/kashmir-is-slipping-away-from-india/)
Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende has termed the situation in
Kashmir as “very delicate situation in Kashmir and hasalso offered that his country is available for mitigating tension between Pakistan and India over Kashmir.
Pellet guns are inherently inaccurate and indiscriminate, and have no place in law enforcement... Amnesty International India calls on the Jammu and Kashmir government to immediately stop the use of pellet guns in policing protests. They cannot ensure well-targeted shots and risk causing serious injury, including to bystanders or other protesters not engaging in violence. These risks are almost impossible to control..
This weapon is “less-lethal” weapon which has “deadly consequences”. Authorities have termed the pellet gun as a “non-lethal” weapon. “The death of a third person in Jammu and Kashmir due to injuries caused by pellet guns is a reminder that the „less-lethal‟ weapon can have deadly consequences.” On Wednesday, 23-year-old Riyaz Ahmed Shah died in Srinagar of multiple pellet injuries. “The autopsy report said that Riyaz was shot at from a close range, and there were multiple pellet injuries to his vital organs. The state police have registered a murder case against unnamed security personnel
Amnesty International charged with sedition in India In India, Amnesty International has been charged with sedition after holding an event which discussed alleged rights abuses by Indian forces in disputed Kashmir. Amnesty has criticised the colonial-era sedition charge and one journalist who has covered sedition cases says this one doesn’t have a strong chance of succeeding.
Another Season of Unrest Brings Darkness for Ordinary Kashmiris” “As Kashmir deals with the worst outbreak of unrest in six years, hospital wards are filled with partially or fully blinded victims of pellet injuries, some under 10 years old”.
NEW YORK TIMES
“Kashmir and the Inheritance of Loss”, “A pellet is a high-velocity projectile 2mm to 4mm around and with sharp edges. It doesn‟t simply penetrate an eye; it ricochets inside it, tearing the retina and the optic nerves, scooping out flesh and bone”.
INDIAN NEWSPAPER DAILY THE HINDU
NEW YORK TIMES; August 28, 2016
AN EPIDEMIC OF ‘DEAD EYES’ IN KASHMIR AS INDIA USES PELLET GUNS ON PROTESTERS
The street out is patrolled by police officers in camouflage, bracing the nightly spasm of violence, but it quite here inside the operating room. The surgeon‟s knife slides into an eyeball as if it were a soft fruit.
The patient‟s eyelids have been stretched back with a metal clamp, so his eyeball bulges out of glistening pink tissue. The surgeon sits with his back very straight, cutting with tiny movements of his fingers. Every now and then, a thread of blood appears in the patient‟s eye socket. The patient is 8 years old.
“Very bad,” murmurs the surgeon, Dr. S. Natarajan. But then, all 13 cases he will see today will be very bad.
New York times reporter Ellen Barry reports form an operation theater of a Srinagar hospital.
Since mid-July, when the current wave of protests against the Indian military occupation started, more than 570 patients have reported to Srinagar‟s main government hospital with eyes ruptured by lead pellets, sometimes known as birdshot, fired by security forces armed with pump-action shotguns to disperse crowds.
VIOLATIONS OF INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS STANDARDS
Attacks on ambulances are a clear violation of international humanitarian laws.
The duty of treating the wounded / sick and protection of medical facilities and personal has been at the core of international humanitarian laws.
These attacks by State forces are against the Geneva Convention of 1949 and the two additional Protocols of 1977.
These attacks are against the UN Security Council Resolution 2286 (2016) that strongly condemns attack on medical facilities.
The excessive use of force and use of live ammunition on protestors by Indian armed forces is violation of UN Basic Principles on the use of Force and Firearms by the Law Enforcement Officials.
Attacks and restrictions on peaceful assembly is violation of right to freedom of expression. (Article 19 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and free assembly Article 20 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights - Article 21.
The state sanctioned impunity is against international human rights law.
People of Kashmir have been arbitrary arrests and detained therefore violation of Article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that “no one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile”. As well as International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 9.
The forces are involved in custodial killings / summary executions therefore violation of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR — Article 6.1).
The forces have used frequently and indiscriminately the pellet guns on protestors. The pellet cartridge contains 400-500 iron ball bearings and once fired, is inherently inaccurate and indiscriminate. The pellet firing has caused blindness to 300 persons. The use of pellet guns is not in line with international standards on the use of force.
We are thankful to Directorate General of Electronic Media and Publications for their support with regard to this write up.
Cyber Wing, Ministry of Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage, Govt. of Pakistan