Pellet horror continues to haunt Kashmir

Pellet horror continues to haunt Kashmir
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Afaq Bhat

Srinagar, Apr 6: The recent protests in Shopian after the killing of thirteen militants and four civilians have once again brought into focus the pellet guns, which injured nearly 200 people in Shopian on last Sunday.
According to the doctors more than 40 people could lose their vision fully or partially as the pellets have perforated their eyes. “The government forces using pellets has been disapproved by one and all. When Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh visited Kashmir in the midst of 2016 unrest he assured that the Centre would look for some other alternative to pellet guns but till date nothing has been done to replace the pellet guns,” a Kashmir watcher told Precious Kashmir.
He said that Government of India and Jammu and Kashmir government have acknowledged the fact that situation in Kashmir is grim. “People at the top know it very well that even a small incident can trigger a protest. They should look for non-lethal ways and means to control these protests,” he added.
An official said, “At times it becomes very difficult for us to handle the violent situations and we are left with no other option other than to use the pellet guns.”
Referring to the recent protests at Shopian near the encounter site the official said, “If protesters are not stopped from reaching the encounter site the number of casualties of civilians could be on the higher side. We have observed that whenever a gunfight takes place emotions are high and it becomes difficult to stop the people from rushing towards a place where bullets are flying,” the official said, “At present pellet guns are the only option available with us. If we get a better option tomorrow we won’t mind switching over.”
A senior leader of the Opposition National Conference said, “When we were in power, PDP used to claim that when it comes into power it would replace the pellet guns. I want to ask them what happened to their promises and claims. Why have they failed to replace these guns?”
He said, “The PDP by now may have realized that state government cannot cross the line as its New Delhi’s prerogative about how to deal with the situation.”
A PDP leader however, blamed National Conference for bringing pellet guns into Kashmir. “It was during NC’s rule that pellet guns were introduced in the Valley. Hundreds of people sustained pellet injuries during the clashes during the NC rule. But we are trying our best to ensure that GoI comes up with the alternative so that the pellet guns could be banned,” the leader added.