Riyaz Ahmed Shah’s death by over 300 pellets has become one of the biggest examples in Kashmir about what is not exactly right. 53 people have died and after a month of turmoil, the tension in the valley refuses to die down. Children as young as just 4 year old are baring the brunt of pellet guns. On one hand the separatists have extended their shutdown call to August 12 in order to drive home their point strongly. On the other hand the government is concerned. The Centre has done many rounds of meetings but things are yet to improve.
A guard of an ATM branch of a private bank, Riyaz Ahmad Shah has become the face of the worst case scenario in the valley. The 21-year-old hailing from Chattabal area of downtown Srinagar died, after he was fired at by the Central Reserve Police
Riyaz’s postmortem report revealed that more than 300 pellets had pierced his body leading to his death.
In a span of 30 days at least 378 eyes have been hit by pellets which have resulted in complete blindness. Even as Pakistan groups do a campaign by photoshopping celebrities with pellet marks, there are widespread calls for change in strategy. Many like Maj Gen Retd GD Bakshi though believe that the man in the uniform has to face the music both ways. He says so speaking to ScoopWhoop in an interview.
With no halt in use of pellet guns, doctors fear worse times ahead. They say: “more youth may lose eyesight.”
Protests have continued since July 9 following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen Commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani.
Both SMHS Hospital and SKIMS Hospital have seen massive inflow of patients and every second person has a story to tell.
Doctors said leaving the treatment midway will result in ‘further loss of vision’.
“The injured have to be facilitated in such a way that they do not lose more eyesight,” say doctors to the media.
In what is being called a Black and Bloody Friday there were three persons dead and 150 injured. Normal life remains paralysed after a month.
In statistics which bring out the horror, 53 people have died and more than 6,000 injured in clashes between protesters and security forces.
Schools, colleges, business establishments, petrol pumps banks and private offices remain closed.
Hospitals in the strife torn area are flooded with dozens of young men, some minors. Some wear sunglasses, others have bandages over one eye or thick strips of gauze across both. Many in pain and have a complete dark life ahead to talk about.
They are victims of so-called non-lethal pellet guns that security forces have been using to control protests in Kashmir since 2010.
The government has set up a seven-member team to look for alternatives to these weapons. CRPF though talks of continuing with them for lack of better alternatives.
In a piece Muzamil Jaleel writes
Today, 17 years after its inception, when the PDP is the largest party with 28 legislators and its “rooh-e-ravan (heart and soul)” Mehbooba is at the helm, her government is seen as the enemy of the people. The massive upsurge across Kashmir, triggered by the killing of Kashmiri militant Burhan Wani and the subsequent civilian killings, has exposed another reality: that Mehbooba, once in power, is hard to tell apart from her arch rival Omar Abdullah (NC) of 2010. In fact, Mehbooba would refer to militants as “our boys in the jungles” and advocated “goli se nahin boli se (not with bullets but dialogue)” as the way forward. She would speak out against “State-sponsored terror”.
In the meanwhile Global rights group Amnesty International has asked the government in the state to stop use of pellet guns that claimed lives and left hundreds blinded.
Amnesty also termed the weapon as a “less-lethal” weapon which has “deadly consequences”.
Jammu & Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) has created posters with text written in braille script to make the “blind world” aware about the sufferings of people in Kashmir.
In numbers which also speak about the seriousness of the situation, one learns that atleast 50,000 have died in an insurgency which started in 1987.
Over years, anti-government rallies have occurred frequently, raising tensions between security forces and civilians. In the interim Kashmir waits for some sense of relief.