Skip to main content

Pellet guns have pushed hundreds of Kashmiris into darkness forever: Testimonies in "Time" report

Danish Rajab Jhat
By Rajiv Shah
The well-known American journal "Time", in a report exclusively focussed on the controversial use of the pallet guns to quell disturbances in the Kashmir Valley in 2016, taking the testimony of nine victims, has said that all of their scars, caused by what are called "non-lethal" weapons, have pushed them, as also hundreds others, fully or partially into "darkness."
"At first glance, their scars look like pockmarks. Some have their eyes closed; others have a far-away look, eyes glazed over. They could be gazing out at a distant view", the report by "Time" journalist Billy Perrigo, quoting testimonies collected by a freelance photographer from Italy, Camillo Pasquarelli, says, adding, "These Kashmiri men, women and children aren’t looking at anything. The darkness that surrounds them in Camillo Pasquarelli’s photographs surrounds them in life, too."
Recalling that in the seven months following militant leader Burhan Wani’s killing in July 2016, over 6,000 people were injured by pellet guns, including 782 who suffered eye injuries, the report says, "Most of the victims photographed by Pasquarelli ... were injured during that period in 2016. All said they were not involved in protests when they were shot."
Shakeela Begum
"Each of Pasquarelli’s subjects are still coming to terms with their blindness, including the loss of not just their sight but also their ability to go to school or to work", the report says, giving details of what they told him "of their pain."
  • Amir Kabir Beigh, 26, from Baramulla, says, “I have gone through a lot of surgeries all over India but I am still completely blind". 
  • Danish Rajab Jhat, 24, is from Srinagar, and his "left eye was unsalvageable, so doctors replaced it with an artificial eyeball. He still has 90 pellets inside his body, and from his right eye he can barely see shadows."
  • Shabkal Nazir Waseem, 25, is from Bijbehera. "Police left him with one hundred pellets all over his upper body when they shot him on the Muslim holiday of Eid. Two lodged in each eye, leaving him almost totally blind. Four people were blinded by pellet guns in Kashmir on the day he was shot, he told Pasquarelli".
  • Asif Ahmad Sheikh, 10, is from Anantnag. "Asif received one pellet in his right eye, losing vision entirely on that side. He told Pasquarelli the injury has caused lots of problems at school".
  • Faiz Firdouz, 18, was hit by 20 pellets, two of which entered his right eye. “Why? What was my fault? Why [have] they ruined my career, my future?”, he asks the photographer.
  • Aquib Zahoor Pampore, 16, is from Anantnag. "One pellet perforated the retina of his left eye; leaving him blind on that side. He told Pasquarelli he was forced to leave school because of his injuries".
  • Shakeela Begum, 35, is from Sheeri. "She was hit by dozens of pellets on her chest and face. One entered her left eye and two hit her right eye. The pellets were shot from a very short distance and traveled beyond the retina, leaving her with only 10% of her vision".
  • Mohammad Asif Dar, 23, is from Baramulla. "He says he was playing cricket when he was shot in the head, shoulder and chest. Despite eight surgeries, he only has 10% of his vision left in his right eye."
  • Shahid Ahmad Wani, 16, is from Achabal. "He was forced to end his studies after being hit by 93 pellets all over his body, with two in the left eye. After three failed surgeries he is now able to only see shadows. To the right of his portrait, his medical records are pictured."
Pasquarelli first met pellet gun victims last October at a workshop in Srinagar for people who had lost their sight, held by the HELP Foundation, an NGO working with victims of the conflict. When darkness fell at 5 p.m. during the oppressive Kashmiri winter, he decided to take some portraits.
While doctors told him that removing the pellets is too dangerous, as they remain lodged into victims’ bodies, as permanent as their blindness, what drove him crazy the x-ray of Amir Kabir Beigh, one of Kashmir’s first pellet gun victims.
"Hundreds of small pellets all over his head. It was then I realized I needed X-rays, to make the project complete and to balance the message that I want to convey", the photographer is quoted as saying. This led him to collect several more testimonies of x-rays so that his main goal, to raise some awareness on the issue, is achieved.
Asif Ahmad Sheikh
The report quotes Dr. Anna Feigenbaum, an expert at Bournemouth University, U.K., to say, "We tend to only be interested in weapons that kill... In the era of drones and missiles and police firearm killings, a pellet gun can seem frivolous. Except when you’re looking at these kinds of images.”
It also quotes the Omega Research Foundation, a UK-based charity that monitors military technologies, to say, “The Indian forces call it a pellet gun, but it is a pump action shotgun".
"The only difference is the type of ammunition: a cartridge with up to 500 tiny lead pellets, which disperse in all directions when fired. They are commonly used by hunters. The ammunition is not designed for crowd control,” Omega said.
It added, “This weapon should not be used at all... No modification could make its use compliant with international human rights law and standards. Those laws state the use of force must be strictly proportionate and targeted. Pellet guns, on the contrary, spit a cloud of lead in all directions, making it impossible to guarantee bystanders will not be injured."

Comments

TRENDING

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Don't agree on domestic subsidies, ensure food security at WTO meet: Farmer leaders

Counterview Desk  The Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements (ICCFM), a top network of farmers’ organizations in India, in a letter to Piyush Goyal, Minister of Commerce and Industry, has asked him to “safeguard food security and sovereignty, even as ensuring peasants' rights" at the 13th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO MC 13), to take place from 26 to 29 February 2024 in Abu Dhabi.

Sharp 61-85% fall in Tech startup funding in India's top 'business-friendly' States

By Rajiv Shah Funding in Tech startups in top business-friendly Indian states has witnessed a major fall, a data intelligence platform for private market research has said in a series of reports it has released this month. Analysing Tech startup data of Telangana, Maharashtra, Delhi NCR, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala, Tracxn Technologies Ltd , the Bengaluru-based research firm, finds that except for Kerala, funding witnessed a fall of anywhere between 61% and 85%.

Maize, bajra, jute, banana cultivation banned off West Bengal border: Plea to NHRC

Counterview Desk  West Bengal-based human rights defender Kirity Roy, who is secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Manch, and is national convenor of the Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity, in a representation to the chairman, National Human Rights Commission, second within few days, has bought to light one more case of trespassing and destruction of a fertile banana plantation by BSF personnel along the Indo-Bangladesh border, stating, despite a written complaint to the police has taken "no initiative".

India second best place to invest, next to UAE, yet there is 'lacks support' for IT services

By Sreevas Sahasranamam, Aileen Ionescu-Somers*  The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the best place in the world to start a new business, according to the latest annual Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) survey. The Arab nation is number one for the third year in a row thanks to a big push by the government into cutting-edge technology in its efforts to diversify away from oil.

Solar energy funding dips 9% in 2023; 2024 'kicks off' with US$1 billion investment

By Lakshmitha Raj*  Solar energy tech companies have already secured slightly over US$1 billion in funding in 2024 (till Feb 7, 2024) after total funding into Solar Energy companies in India fell 9% to US$1.55B in 2023 from US$1.7B in 2022. A total of 39 $100M+ rounds have been closed till date, with Delhi leading the city-wise funding, followed by Gurugram and Mumbai.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Mahanadi delta: Aggressive construction in flood plains, reduced fish stock, pollution

By Sudhansu R Das  Frequent natural calamities, unemployment, low farmers’ income, increase in crime rate and lack of quality human resources to strike a balance between growth and environment etc. continue to haunt the state. The state should delve into the root causes of poverty, unemployment and natural calamities.

Narmada Valley's fossil evidence: Ground for 'nationalists' to argue primates' India roots?

By Saurav Sarkar*  In December 1982, a geologist digging in India’s Central Narmada Valley found something he did not expect. Arun Sonakia, who at the time worked for the Geological Survey of India, unearthed a hominid fossil skullcap from the Pleistocene era. The discovery sent shockwaves through the field of paleoanthropology and put South Asia on the map of human prehistory. Some experts concluded that the skull likely belonged to a member of a predecessor species of ours, Homo heidelbergensis , or perhaps was a hybrid of homo species, while Sonakia himself suggested “ an affinity… to Homo erectus .”