This can happen only in Kashmir

The liberal use of deadly and dangerous pellet and pepper guns – This can happen only in Kashmir ___ (I)

                It can only happen in Kashmir, the paradise turned into hell. The ‘non-lethal’ weapons can kill animals, imagine how much lethal they can prove when comparatively vulnerable humans (without strong hide shields and lesser immunity to toxicity) are the targets.

            Kashmir has become a laboratory for Indian Establishment to hone and improvise its arsenals when Kashmiris, unarmed Kashmiris, surge on to the roads demanding nothing but Aazadi.

            More the intensity of the protests, more brutal is the response from the Indian state. Not only are the forces shielded with steel helmets, body guard pads, thigh pads, stone stoppers, bullet proof jackets, they carry gun in one hand, sling shots in other, one pouch full of cartridges, other of marbles. Add to its armored vehicle(s) and contingents of sepoys armed with ‘pepper’ and ‘pellet’ guns ready to spray and shoot. On the top of it, the notorious AFSPA keeps flowing the adrenalin of the Jawans operating ‘in line of duty’. The victim Kashmiri has to heave no sigh of relief, inhale no breath of life. That much is ensured. After all when a soft-spoken, highly articulate and cultured former Indian Home Minister Chidambaram would describe resisting youth (of 2010 mass-agitation) as an extension of Lashker-e-Toiba (LeT) and ‘combatants’, (therefore legitimate targets) how come these “valorous” soldiers of nation India will feel ‘isolated’. How come they will have their ‘morale’ down.

            Bullets we know are lethal. They pierce through the body and leave the target in a pool of blood. More so when, as in Kashmir, bullets are fired with avowed aim to kill or maim for life, or never to recover from ‘vegetative state’. The outcry against disproportionate and excessive use of force prodded Indians to pile up what they say ‘non-lethal’ weapons and thus silence their critics. The 2010 saw police and paramilitary forces introduce, in addition to bullet and tear gas grenades, pellet gun, pepper gun and some other guns to “control” protestors. Mudasir Nazir (18) became the first victim after he was hit by a multiple pellets in Spore on 19 August 2010. According to experts it can’t be used against crowds due to its exploding into multiple pellets. It can kill animals not to speak of humans (But here in Kashmir dogs have constitutional protections, not the Kashmiri youth!) Doctors say if somebody is sprayed with more than five pellets it is difficult to save him. While a bullet has one track to follow, pellets have several and torturous tracks, to locate and clear, which makes it difficult to locate and remove.

            Pepper gun the authorities claim that this non-lethal gun does not harms the target. It, they say, cause only ‘irritation’, forcing protestors to disperse. However, the incidents, in the wake of Guru’s hanging tell a different tale. One arithmetic person in old city died due to pepper gas. Studies conducted on the impact of pepper gas at international level have shown that it can produce respiratory, cardiac and neurological problems.       

‘Blood oozed out from my mouth and I collapsed. When I woke up, I found myself in the nearby Gousia Hospital’, Sofi Gh Muhammad of Saraf Kadal Srinagar told reporters. Sofi was hospitalized when police fired a pepper gas canister near his shop.’ (Kashmir Reader, 21 Feb, 2013)

‘My son was incessantly coughing in his room while he was busy with his home work. He was unable to call us, and if I would not have checked on him, he would have coughed to death’ said Riaz Mohi-ud-Din, father of 11 year old Momin of Rajouri kadal’. (Kashmir Reader, 21 Feb, 2013)

            It is in place to mention that two dogs lost their lives due to toxic pepper gas. According to medical experts pepper gas can be fatal for elderly patients. ‘If allergic patients are exposed to pepper gas, it can cause acute precipitation and choking within an hour…. It can cause watering of eyes in children, but if it is excessive it may cause blindness…’ a SKIMS Soura doctor was quoted by Kashmir Reader.                                                                                    

(To be concluded)