Since protests erupted in Kashmir , over 2,000 people have been injured, most to their eyes owing to small steel pellets fired by Indian forces.
Since the killing of Burhan Wani in a police encounter, Indian-held Kashmir has descended into violence. The government adopted all means to curb the protests but it failed to prevent clashes between protesters and security forces . The violence has left over 45 people dead while over 2,000 have been injured, including 600 who suffered pellet injuries.
“Scores of young men with bandages on their eyes, before or after undergoing surgery to remove tiny steel pellets from their retinas,” Kashmiri Mirza Waheed describes scenes in Kashmir The Guardian reported on Monday.
“Indian forces deployed now routinely use pellet guns to stymie roadside demonstrations,” Waheed states.
The guns, he says, were supposed to be New Delhi’s answer to ‘non-lethal’ crowd control devices. Owing to the frequent use of the weapon in the past 10 days, doctors have had to perform around 150 eye surgeries. There was a point when requests to seek reinforcement of eye-specialists.
“It’s a fate worse than death,” Waheed narrated one doctor as saying that most victims will lose their eyesight.
“No other country has wilfully blinded scores of youths,” Waheed lamented.
Pakistan fanning flames
Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday accused Pakistan of sponsoring unrest in Indian Kashmir as he termed the UN-mandated plebiscite ‘outdated’.
"Pakistan has been playing an irresponsible role, it should not claim to be the protector of Muslims," Singh told the Rajya Sabha, Times of India reported.
"Whatever is happening is completely Pakistan-sponsored. The name is Pakistan, but all its actions are 'napaak'."
Rejecting the disputed status of Kashmir, he asserted that Kashmiris were India’s ‘own people’ and went on to rule out a ‘plebiscite’ in the disputed valley which is mandated under UN Security Council resolutions. He said the plebiscite was ‘outdated’ and that the people of the valley were being ‘misguided’ on the issue.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 19th, 2016.