2 persons blinded, 3 lost vision in one eye in pellets last year: RTI

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KG News Desk
Srinagar, April 22: At least five persons lost their eyesight, out of 64 persons who suffered injuries due to pellets fired at them by government forces in Kashmir during past 15 months.
According to the information obtained through Right to Information Act (RTI) by Hurriyat (M) leader Mannan Bukhari, sixteen patients were admitted at the SKIMS Medical College-Hospital Bemina in Srinagar last year.
“Out of nine patients admitted and treated in the Ophthalmology Department of the hospital, two patients lost eyesight in both eyes, three patients lost eye sight in one eye and one patient recovered partial eye sight,” said the RTI reply.
The information revealed that total number of patients with pellet injuries admitted in various hospitals from October 2014 to December last year was 54, with 45 having eye injuries.
In SMHS Hospital, the hospital authorities said the exact number of patients who lost their eye sight or whose eye sight was impaired was not known.
According to the information issued by the Public Information Officer, SMHS Hospital, 48 patients with pellet injuries were treated in the Emergency Department from October 2014 to November 2015 while as 42 of them were admitted in the Hospital.
“The Department of Ophthalmology, Government Medical College, Srinagar said that 38 pellet injury patients were admitted in this department from October 2014 to November 2015. And 32 patients with pellet gun injuries required an operative procedure in this department,” revealed the RTI reply.
In the past few years, the government forces have been firing the “non-lethal” pellets at protesters across the Valley.
Quoting a police officer, a leading Chennai-based newspaper had reported one cartridge contains 400-500 pellets, resembling ball bearings. They come in grades of five to 12, five being the largest, fastest and with the widest range. “Though written instructions have been given to use the number 9 pellet for crowd control, as it does not cause lasting damage, the directive isn’t followed. In villages, we see number 6 and 7 pellets being used regularly,” the police officer said.
International rights watchdog Amnesty International last year said asked the Jammu and Kashmir government to prohibit the use of pellet-firing shotguns in policing demonstrations, saying they are inherently inaccurate and indiscriminate.
“Several cases have been reported of people suffering serious injuries, particularly eye injuries, as a result,” the amnesty international had said after a 16-year-old Hamid Nazir Bhat was shot by police firing a pellet gun in Palhalan on May 21, 2015, and lost vision in one eye.