NEARLY 500 people have been hit in their eyes by pellets fired by police and paramilitary personnel in Kashmir in the 42 days of protests, and a majority of victims have “multiple structural damage” to their eyeballs, the state government Saturday told Jammu and Kashmir High Court.
According to the government, 446 people with pellet injuries in eyes have undergone treatment at Srinagar’s Shri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) Hospital. Most victims would “require two or more surgeries” and follow-up treatment for at least one year, state Advocate General Jahangir Iqbal Ganai said in an affidavit submitted before the court.
In response to Kashmir HC Bar Association’s PIL seeking a ban on use of pellet guns, the government said 412 civilians with serious pellet injuries in eyes were admitted in SMHS’s Ophthalmology department between July 9 and August 15. Of these, 358 patients had “open globe injuries” and underwent primary repair of the injured eyes immediately,’’ the government submitted. SMHS doctors said, since August 15, “34 more cases of serious eye injuries caused by the pellets” have been admitted, taking the number of patients admitted to 446.
A division bench of Chief Justice of High Court N Paul Vasanthakumar and Justice Ali Muhammad Magrey asked the government to provide day-wise figures of civilians injured in the protests.
The government submitted the number of victims admitted only in SMHS till August 12. Data from districts across Kashmir, barring Kupwara, shows around 350 civilians with pellet injuries on their eyes were treated at district hospitals since July 9. Dr Shafa Deva, Medical Superintendent of Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences College and Hospital, said the hospital saw 75 cases of pellet injuries on eyes since July 9, and 60 of them were operated in the hospital.
In an affidavit submitted before the court Wednesday, Inspector General of CRPF in Srinagar, Atul Karwal, said, “…This (pellet gun) is the only alternative left with CRPF, before use of lethal force. If this (pellet gun) is withdrawn…CRPF personnel would have no recourse but to open fire.”