It is to be noted that so far nearly 150 countries have banned pepper spray under article 1.5 of the chemical weapons convention it was because of the damage caused to respiratory tract the countries banned use of pepper gas. European countries too have labeled use of the pepper as ’inhuman and dangerous’ and emptied it off their mob-controlling non-lethal weapons. But in Kashmir the pepper guns, introduced in 2010 agitation in which 120 youth fell to lethal and ‘non-lethal’ weapons, continue to be part of what they say ‘counter-insurgency’ paraphernalia. This is despite the fact that State Human Rights Commission has given the directions against the use of pepper guns. But the very use of the pepper spray by the police and the paramilitary forces shows whose writ runs in the persecuted land.
Imagine chili sprayed in one’s eyes and the fall out. One would prefer to die than live with the burning pain of eyes. Pepper gun contains super and extremely dangerous and painful irritant capsaicin II (the same burning component we find in chilies) in the form of dry powder Pepper gun shoots balls of this dry powder which burst all around spreading smoke and dust. The people start coughing and coughing and burning of eyes. But here the pain and trauma of subjugated people makes the oppressor derive a sadistic pleasure.
As far as showering of bullets and throwing of tear gas canisters are concerned they make a routine of what they call ‘Standard Operational Procedure’. In most of cases the bullets are fired above knee height. Tear gas canisters in many cases (as 2010 Intifada shows) have exploded in hitting the crowd, causing many casualties. One woman Gowhar Jan, wife of Arshid Ahmad of Goriwan, who had come to the maternity hospital in Islamabad on 28th August 2010 has lost the fetus due to excessive inhalation of tear smoke and high decibel blast of tear smoke shells. A doctor who treated the woman told Greater Kashmir on the fateful day that till yesterday both the mother and fetus were normal and the USG conducted a few days ago also confirmed the fetus was very much alive.
You will be astonished that in summer 2010 mass-movement 26 persons were shot in the eyes. So much “accuracy” the forces personnel maintained while shooting bullets, tear gas, pellets and pellets. Majority of them have lost eye-sight. Two have been eviscerated. (Greater Kashmir, 24 August2010)
Not to forget sling shots, which paramilitary forces use frequently and aiming at the vital and delicate organs s of the body. 12th class student Zubair Parvez of Khanyar was hit on eye by a marble stone fired from sling shot by CRPF outside his home. His right eye got completely damaged. A doctor treating him said: ‘his retina has been damaged completely and he can’t see again. Another teenager Mohd Salad of Spore was hit in his left eye by a rubber bullet of CRPF. He too lost eye-sight. (24th august 2010) There are scores of other hapless youth in Kashmir who have lost their visual sight in the CRPF (Delhi controlled armed force) sling shot action and bullet fire.
What defines the brutal action by the forces personnel as the one inimical to ‘secular’ and ‘democratic’ claim of India is state’s unwillingness to give all immunity to the forces and thus make them above law, “sacred cows”. Imperialists and Dictators of yester years could have emulated the modern Indian state and washed off the many smudges and taints and accusations!
Stone pelting is not a new phenomenon in Kashmir. It has been there for past six decades. And it is not Kashmiri youth exclusively who resort to it. In all over India, people t6hrow stone sand use other violent means to express their anger. But there you do not risk the health of old, infant and pregnant women in dealing with stone throwers. Here you use it not only against youth but also as a collective punishment to crush pro-resistance movement. That makes visible imperialistic strands.