Indian pellet guns rupture more than 570 eyes in Kashmir to suppress freedom protests

WASHINGTON, Aug 29 (APP): More than 570 people in the Indian-held Kashmir have their eyes ruptured by lead pellets, fired by security forced who used pallet guns to disperse crowds during street protests, often calling for independence from the Indian rule.

A wave of protests has hit the Indian occupied valley since July when security forces killed a young Kashmiri freedom fighter, Burhan Wani, who was very popular among the youth. More than 65 people, including women and children have been killed since then in violence.

Last week, security forces arrested several Kashmiri leaders to suppress the protests which have continued unabated, condemning violence by the Indian security forces and often calling for freedom from the Indian rule. Most of Kashmir has remained under curfew since.

But, a more horrific aspect of the violence is the use of pellet guns by Indian forces used to fire small stones pebbles directly at protesters which have put hundreds of people at the risk of losing their eyesight.

A report by the New York Times said that more than 570 people have reported in Srinagars main government hospitals with eyes ruptured by lead pellets. Police have used pump-action shotguns to disperse crowds during protest rallies.

The patients have mutilated retinas, severed optic nerves, irises seeping out like puddles of ink. Dead eyes, the ophthalmology departments chief calls them, the report said.

According to the report, of several waves of protests that has Indian-held Kashmir since 2010, the recent anti-India demonstrations are the most sustained and violent.

The 2016 will almost certainly be remembered as the year of dead eyes, the report said, adding that the eye injuries have become a focus of public anger. This forced Indias Home Minister to say that these pellet guns will be replaced with another type of non-lethal weapon.

However, people with eye ruptures continue to pour into hospitals.

The report said on July 9, as many as 15 people were brought wit eye-rupture in a span of few hours. In most cases, it became clear, the pellets had burst into through the cornea and out through the retina, leaving little hope of fully restoring vision, the report said.

On the streets of Srinagar, which have a ghostly emptiness after 50 days of curfew, people have scrawled, Indian dogs, Go India, go back, “We love Pakistan” and “Burhan is alive in our hearts, the report said.

Pellet guns were used in 2010 in Kashmir during a bloody season of protest. These guns have been used in Egypt, Bahrain and Tunisia, but most countries do not use them on unarmed civilians, the report said.

This year, the use of pellets on Kashmiri protesters increased sharply, with the police firing more than 3,000 canisters, or upward of 1.2 million pellets, in the first 32 days of the protests, the report said quoting the Central Reserve Police Force.