The complicated Kashmir issue has just got worse after the recent clashes between civilians and security forces and police in the valley. The clashes have claimed at least 38 lives and hundreds more have got injured seriously. The police who tried to quell the protests had used pellets which in turn have seriously or permanently impaired eyesight of more than hundreds including women and children. Police claim that it is a “non lethal weapon”, but doctors treating pellet victims say it maims a person forever. Taking stock of the situation, the central government has dispatched eye specialists to aid the treatment of the injured.
What are pellets?
Pellet cartridge holds around 600 little iron balls, which gets scattered when shot and hits anyone and everyone within range. Metal pellets create a pattern 6 feet square at a distance of 60 yards from the place of shooting. The police consider pellets as non-lethal weapons that are routine in quelling protests. It was introduced in Kashmir in the aftermath of the 2010 protests in which more the 120 people were killed. The scale and nature of injuries tell otherwise, there are some cases where the pellets cannot be removed and the person might have to live with these iron balls permanently inside his/her body. According to The Hindu “For instance, in one Srinagar hospital alone, the Shri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital, of the 87 civilians who were brought in with injuries, about 40 had sustained pellet injuries to their eyes. Of these, doctors concluded that 19 persons, or almost half of those with eye injuries, may never recover their eyesight”. It is not clear yet, whether there was a conscious decision to fire the iron balls into people’s eyes or it was due to lack of training of the police in the usage of pellets.
Some of the ill effects of the recent episodes
The police & the army are at the mercy of the governments who have to execute the orders issued and also empowered by the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act. The space for discussion, debates, and opinions on the issue has shrunk and thereby taking the elusive solution to the Kashmir issue further away from us.
The way forward – Dialogue
Kashmir issue has taken a lot of lives which includes our own army and our own people who live in the valley. The question we should ask ourselves how far are we going to go or are we keep sacrificing the lives of our own army and people without solving the issue. The issue is making us (Indians, Armed forces, Police & Indian citizens of Kashmir) lose more be it life, be it resources, be it relationships and what not. The recent incident has further alienated our brothers in Kashmir. For once, all stake holders should take a step back and take a birds eye view of what is happening there and what is the best way forward. All stake holders should come to the table and iron out issues, build trust among each other and foundations have to be laid for the future i.e schools, colleges, roads, bridges.
The Logical Indian appeals to all the stake holders to remain calm, given a large number of lives being lost in the last few days. Our thoughts and wishes are with the families of the people who lost their lives and when we say lives, we mean the armed forces, police, and the citizens. We hope and wish, a constructive dialogue can resume sooner than later.