Court pulls up government for pellet guns, curfew in Kashmir

Court pulls up government for pellet guns, curfew in Kashmir

Srinagar, July 23 (IANS) The Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Saturday pulled up the state government for the use of pellet guns on protesters and asked it to relax, at least from “some peaceful areas”, the over fortnight-long curfew in the restive valley.

The court direction comes a day after Home Minister Rajnath Singh told parliament in Delhi that the government was planning to set up a panel to look for an alternative to the pellet guns that have been used in a new surge of violence in Kashmir.

“The Home Minister has said in the Lok Sabha that an expert committee will be framed to find substitutes to pellet guns. This statement should be sufficient for the (state) government to discontinue the use of pellet guns,” the high court said here while hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL).

More than 350 people in Kashmir have suffered pellet injuries and many of them have been wounded in their eyes amid fears that they may be partially or completely blinded for their life.

The use of pellet guns against stone-throwing protesters has sparked international condemnation with Amnesty International asking the government to prohibit the use of these shotguns at street demonstrators.

The pellet is considered a non-lethal weapon but it can leave a victim maimed or blinded for life. The cartridge of pellet gun is different from a bullet. A pellet gun sprays small iron ball bearings towards a target with high velocity. These bearing can pierce a human body at dozens of spots. It can be more dangerous it fired from a short range.

The court noted that “when a person loses his eyesight, he loses everything, he loses universe.

“No sensitive soul can bear looking at these pictures,” it said, referring to newspaper pictures of a five-year-old boy injured by pellets.

“He is a five-year-old child. You cannot accuse him of throwing stones,” said the bench of Chief Justice N. Paul Vasanthakumar and Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar.

It also asked the government and health officials to have arrangements in place so that those 140 patients who need retina surgeries within the next three weeks are operated upon.

The court also asked the government to relax from some place the curfew been imposed after the July 8 killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani. The militant’s killing sparked a wave of unrest in the valley that has left some 45 people dead in the days of violence.

“It has been 14-15 days. For how many days can you shut the doors? There must be some relaxation, at least in some peaceful areas.”

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