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

Modi, Shah 'forget': Gandhi’s first Satyagraha was against citizenship law of South Africa

By Nachiketa Desai*
Hindu fanatic Nathuram Godse assassinated Mahatma Gandhi once on January 30, 1948 but his followers raising the war cry of ‘Jai Sriram’ are killing the Mahatma every day. In his home state of Gujarat, Gandhiji was killed a thousand times in 2002 when over 2,000 Muslims were butchered, their women raped, homes and shops plundered and set on fire and even unborn babies ripped out of the wombs of their mothers.

Union Budget 'moves away' from Right to Education, 1.3 lakh schools closed down

By Dr Aparajita Sharma*
It was a shocking reply by the Union human resource development minister to a question raised in Parliament on closure of schools in a country where lakhs of children are still out of school. On December 2, the minister, Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’, told Lok Sabha that the NITI Aayog’s education project, Sath-E, has led to 35,996 schools of different levels being merged in Madhya Pradesh, 4,312 in Jharkhand and 1,803 in Odisha. NITI Aayog is the Central Government’s policy think-tank.

CAA-NPR-NRC will 'target' 99% homeless, who are without birth certificates: NCU

Counterview Desk
Claiming to base on a survey in five states (Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu), which finds that over 99% of the homeless people do not have birth certificates, a civil rights organization which networks activists, researchers, urban practioners, lawyers, informal sector workers, has claimed that the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), as also the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the National Population Register (NPR), are likely to adversely impact this section the most.

Modi 'warned': Will not remain silent when women are labelled terrorists and traitors

Counterview Desk
As many as 13 women's rights organizations and 162 individuals have issued an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi stating that in the light of hate speeches during Delhi elections, especially directed against women, it is his "Constitutional duty to protect all citizens" and tell his partymen "to fight the elections in a manner that upholds the Constitution, not one that increases the fear and insecurity among women."

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam*
RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Savarkar in Ahmedabad 'declared' two-nation theory in 1937, Jinnah followed 3 years later

By Our Representative
One of the top freedom fighters whom BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi revere the most, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, was also a great supporter of the two nation theory for India, one for Hindus another for Muslims, claims a new expose on the man who is also known to be the original proponent of the concept of Hindutva.

Anti-CAA: Mallika Sarabhai joins students, faculty to protest dy CM's 'divisive' talk

By Our Representative
Taking strong exception to deputy chief minister Nitin Patel’s statement against those protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC), well-known danseuse Mallika Sarabhai has joined tens of activists and students and faculty of Gujarat University, CEPT University, Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad, Gujarat Vidyapeeth and Nirma University to say that they are seeking “azadi” from the fascist and communal forces of the country.

Mystery around Gujarat PSU 'transfer' of Rs 250 crore to Canadian firm Karnalyte

By AK Luke, IAS (Retd)*
While returning from a Board meeting of the Oil India Limited (OIL) in Ahmedabad some time in 2012, two officers of the Gujarat State Fertilizers and Chemicals Ltd (GSFC), Nanavaty and Patel,  saw me off at the airport. They said they were proceeding to Canada in connection with a project GSFC had entered into with a company there. As we were running late, I hastily wished them the best.

Savarkar 'opposed' Bhagat Singh's, Netaji's dream of India, supported British war efforts

By Shamsul Islam*
In a shocking development, the student wing of the RSS put the busts of martyrs Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose with Savarkar's on one pedestal at the University of Delhi late in the night on August 20, 2019. Bhagat Singh sacrificed his life for a socialist-democratic-secular republic and Netaji raised Azad Hind Fauj (INA) consisting of people of all religions and regions for armed liberation of India.