3 April 2020 12:54 AM



J&K Cops Chased Student and Riddled His Eyes with Pellets

A similar case earlier with a young boy hit directly in the eyes by pellets fired by state police

SRINAGAR: A youth is on the verge of losing vision in his left eye after he was injured by pellets fired at protesters by forces in Srinagar.

Sahil Zahoor, a Class XI student at Greenland School in Srinagar, was returning home on Saturday afternoon when a group of policemen chased him and allegedly fired at him using a pellet gun, embedding dozens of tiny metal balls in his upper body and face.

Doctors at the city's premier SMHS Hospital, where the victim is presently undergoing treatment, said a surgery has been performed on the victim but two pellets are buried inside his left eye that have not yet been removed.

“The tear caused by the pellets has been repaired during the first surgery but the pellets have not been removed so far. The eye is on the verge of losing sight. We are running some tests on him today and a second surgery may be required," Dr Junaid Wani, who heads department of ophthalmology at SMHS Hospital, said.

This is the second instance of forces injuring a youth by the use of pellet gun to control protests in Kashmir after the new government assumed office in March this year. Hamid Nazir Bhat, 16, a resident of Palhalan village in north Kashmir, lost vision in his right eye due to pellet injuries suffered during a protest in the village on May 21.

The use of pellet guns to control protests has been condemned by the civil society, Hurriyat groups as well as the rights advocacy group, Amnesty International, which asked the authorities in Kashmir to "desist" from using pellet bombs which are inaccurate and indiscriminate.

On May 31, the director general of J&K Police, K Rajendra, had indicated that the police might stop using pellets as a weapon of controlling protests, "We are also concerned. Pellet gun was introduced in 2010 to avoid casualties. But now this gun is also creating problem. We will look into it and find an alternative that could not put the lives of people at risk.”

However, a senior J&K Police officer, who didn't want to be named, said the pellet gun has become a "weapon of choice" for the force to control protests in areas which are "extremely sensitive" and where violence often breaks out.

The ruling Peoples Democratic Party, which had hit out at the National Conference during 2010 unrest over the use of pellet guns, has maintained a conspicuous silence on the issue which has resulted in loss of eye sight among over 500 youths in the Valley.

The doctors treating Sahil are hopeful about the recovery of his vision, "We are running some more tests on him today. So far, he is not able to see through the left eye and a surgery might be performed on his eye in this week. We are hopeful," Dr Wani said.