Despite announcements of restraint in use of pellet guns by security forces, over 300 admissions of civilians with pellet injuries have been made at SMHS Hospital Srinagar in the past 11 days. Over half of the injured have been hit in their eyes.
With 314 injured being treated at general specialty hospital SMHS in the past 11 days, the number of civilians being injured due to ‘non-lethal’ pellet guns has not come down, doctors said. Hospital authorities said that dozens of people, grievously injured by pellets were being brought to the hospital everyday.
Records reveal that 30 civilians injured by firearms have been admitted at SMHS Hospital everyday on an average since July 9 when protests broke out all over Kashmir following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen Commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani.
Since September 10, the average has dropped only by a few decimal points. Figures state that the total number of injured admitted at the hospital as on afternoon of September 21st was 2325.
“Currently, if we go by the trend in the past 11 days, 28.5 people are being admitted to the hospital daily,” a senior official at SMHS Hospital said.
The injured include young victims who had been hit in both eyes by pellets, damaging their vision profoundly. Some victims had also been hit in vital organs.
As per the hospital records, 20 injured were brought to SMHS Hospital on Tuesday till Wednesday afternoon, almost all hit by pellets. A day before, 28 injured were admitted to the hospital in 24 hrs from Monday morning till Tuesday morning. Of these, 25 injured had been hit by pellets. Hospital authorities said at least 13 victims had their eyes injured by pellets on Monday and were being treated at the hospital.
In the last week, 17 injured were admitted at the hospital on Sunday, 24 on Saturday and 35 on Friday. Doctors said, in almost 90 percent cases, the mode of injury was fire by a pellet gun.
“There were a few people who had shell injuries but they were very few, although many of them have had serious injuries,” a senior specialist at the hospital said.
Doctors said there has been little drop in the number of injuries arriving at the hospital this week, despite them hoping that there will be some respite due to announcements of restraint in use of pellet guns.
Pellet eye injuries, doctors said, form a major proportion of all injuries. Over 800 people with injuries due to pellets in their eye(s) have been admitted at the hospital in the past 75 days of protests across Kashmir.
In the same period, over 1350 people with pellet injuries in parts of body other than eyes have been admitted at the hospital.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh had on August 25 announced that a ‘substitute’ to pellet guns will be ‘announced’. While PAVA shells were announced as an alternative to pellets, it was simultaneously stated that pellet guns would be used in ‘rarest of the rare cases’.
The use of pellet guns has since continued unabated with hundreds more getting injured due to this ‘non-lethal’ weapon since the announcements.
On September 19, Director General of Police (Law and Order), SP Vaid, directed security forces to use pellets as the ‘last resort’.