What kills people of Kashmir?


By Fahad Shah

A chemical compound, Tear Gas, formally known as a lachrymatory agent or lachrymator, stimulates the corneal nerves in the eyes to cause tearing, pain, and even blindness. This is what info-bank Wikipedia informs us about this gas, which in Kashmir has taken many lives when fired by Indian paramilitary forces during clashes with civilians. Adding to this are newly introduced Pellet guns which barrage 150-200 pellets at a trigger and can cause severe damage, that often leads to death.

Civilians in large numbers pouring in the hospital emergency wards with tear gas injuries is common since the protests erupted in the Valley. At present it has been more than four months of curbs on peaceful protests paving way for anger among people which provokes stone throwing. Government has been imposing curfew and strict restrictions.

Peaceful protests always brew in Kashmir, though within hearts. The current wave of ‘Quit Jammu Kashmir Movement’ kicked off after a 17-year-old school going boy, Tufail Ahmad Matoo, was killed in police action when a teargas shell hit his head in a football ground at Rajouri Kadal, while he was returning from tuition classes. His skull was broken. His brain splattered all over the place causing instant death. Police first denied its role and even blamed the people who took Tufail to hospital. Later, the autopsy confirmed the use of the firearm as cause of his death.

And after teargas shells and bullets, state forces are now resorting to Pellet guns causing multiple injuries to the victims. Pellets can penetrate into body at several places like limbs, organs, eye, abdomen or head and can lead to death. Doctors say, at times it can perform more dangerous than bullet guns.

Dr. Amin Tabish, Medical Superintendent, S K Institute of Medical Sciences hospital (SKIMS), Soura says that the hospital mostly receive patients with poly-trauma pellet injuries. “If pellets hit at organs and damage them than it becomes difficult for a doctor to save the patient. We have to do multi disciplinary treatment. In these injuries entry wound is not visible which creates hurdles,” he says.

Paramilitary forces and the police has been firing cluster of pellets at protesters. First victim to pellets was 18-year-old Muddasir Nazir of Sopur whose intestines were perforated with massive gangrene. He had also received multiple injuries in abdomen, chest and thighs. Muddasir succumbed to his injuries, later in hospital.

Fifteen year old Danish Ahmad Shiekh of Tarzoo Sopur, Muhammad Umar War and Nisar Ahmad Malla of Anchar Soura- were also hit by pellets. They also received multiple injuries in head, chest, legs and arms.

An on duty senior emergency doctor at another city hospital, S M Hari Singh hospital, requesting anonymity, says the use of pellets is outrageous. “We are receiving patients mostly whose internal parts are damaged. Bullet injured persons are easy to treat than pellet injured. For a pellet injury we have to do multiple minor surgeries,” he says, while consulting the injured.

In SKIMS hospital only, seven hundred injured have been admitted since June 9 this year among which 25 have died. Speaking of the weapons used for injuries 105 have been injured by pellets while 150 by bullets and 41 are of tear gas shells. In non weapon injuries, 215 people have been injured because of alleged beating or assault by the paramilitary forces and police and 91 are due to incidents of stone throwing. And in these cases most of the injuries were seen above waistline.

The state government also collected all the information of injured and asked it from the state hospitals to present it in autumn legislative assembly sessions. Most of the hospitals have prepared the data of injured and dead in last three months. This list has all the personal information and hospital medical records about the injured and dead.

The generation which is born in this conflict region doesn’t fear for life, despite whichever arms or equipment forces use to quell the protests. It’s this brigade of youth who have been protesting on roads to demand freedom from Indian rule to which India replies as “Kashmir is an integral part of India”. However, Kashmir conflict is still lying in the United Nation which has passed eighteen resolutions on the conflict, still never implemented neither by India nor Pakistan. The two countries administer two parts of Jammu and Kashmir state since the year 1947.

Government has also introduced electroshock guns manufactured by a US-based manufacturer, Taser International, also known as Taser weapons, to control street protests. Taser gun is believed to be less lethal. A Taser is an electroshock weapon that generates electric current and disrupts voluntary control of muscles. The effect is called neuromuscular incapacitation.

Another tool used by the raramilitary forces to injure protestors is Slingshot. Slingshots are used to throw small glass balls at greater speed and force. Many teenage boys have lost their eyesight when hit by these balls. Slingshots have history.

In Palestine, boys have been using it for many years to overthrow Israel troops. A local magazine has quoted in a story that in 2000 Gulf Arabs had offered support to the Palestinians by pledging to supply truckloads of stones and slingshots.

In valley, last month pepper guns were introduced to quell protests.  Pepper gun is a South-African developed air gun that shoots pepper ammo. Pepper ammo in turn is a projectile, slightly larger than a paintball, but made from different materials. A plastic ball with a pepper mix (capsaicin-the burning component of chilies). This is in the form of a dry powder. The plastic ball breaks on impact, releasing a painful, super-irritant powder. This powder creates a dust cloud around the suspect, leaving him temporarily blind, in shock and very uncomfortable.

How the government has been changing tools to stop peaceful protests and stone throwing boys confirm the gravity of Kashmir conflict. One hundred eleven people got killed in police and paramilitary forces action so far.

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