Indian forces’ use of pellet guns inflicting huge toll on Kashmiris: Report

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ISLAMABAD, Dec 17 (APP): The Indian forces’ use of pellet guns
in the Occupied Kashmir has inflicted a permanent toll on hundreds
of Kashmiris hit by them.
“Their faces are scarred. Their eyes are damaged or simply
gone, replaced with prosthetics. And their psychological wounds run
deeper still,” a report in ‘the Independent’ UK, said.
“What I miss most is being able to read the holy Quran,” said
Firdous Ahmad Dar, 25, a Kashmiri man who lost vision in both eyes
after being shot with the pellets during an anti-India protest in
the Indian Occupied Kashmir (IoK).
For Dar, it meant being completely dependent on the family he
once supported by driving an autorickshaw.
“My dream was to educate my young siblings, but now they are
helping me,” he said.
The report said the pellets had been in use here since 2010.
The latest wave of protests began in early July after Indian troops
killed Burhan Wani, a young and charismatic Kashmiri leader.
As government troops cracked down on angry street protests in
the Kashmir valley, shotguns were their weapon of choice.
Health officials said that in the past five months more than
6,000 people, mostly young men, had been injured by shotgun pellets,
including hundreds blinded in one or both eyes.
Police and hospital officials said the pellets had killed at
least eight people, though a prominent local rights group, Jammu-
Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, put the death toll from the
pellets at 18.
International groups including Amnesty International and Human
Rights Watch had called for an end to the use of shotguns, which
showered pellets widely.
The report said some of those injured were protesters, others
just bystanders.
Insha Mushtaq Malik, 14, was standing by the window of her
village home watching protesters and troops skirmish when more than
100 pellets hit her face. She lost both eyes.
“Everything looks dark and black,” she said, as smiles and
sadness took turns flitting across her face.
Five months after she lost her eyes, Malik was still learning
how to deal with her loss, both emotionally and practically.
She needed help with everything, including climbing the
stairs, going to the bathroom and getting dressed.
Photojournalist Xuhaib Maqbool ended up losing vision in his
left eye as he shot images of protesters chanting anti-India slogans
and demanding “azadi” – freedom from Indian rule.
He said that he clearly raised his camera to show the soldier
who shot at him that he was not a protester.
A cycle of violence was repeating itself constantly in Indian
Occupied Kashmir. Angry protests were quelled by force that in turn
feeded more simmering rage.
But sometimes all it left behind was pain and helplessness.