Kashmir: Pellet gun victims as young as 4 years

Srinagar: Children as young as 4 are getting affected due to use of pellet guns by government forces in Kashmir.

Victims include 8 year old Asif Rashid and 13-year-old Mir Arafat, both of whom were hit by pellets fired by government forces to disperse protesters in Khanabal area of Anantnag on Tuesday evening.

Hundreds of pellets penetrated Arafat’s body, from his face to the lower abdomen. “Please, father, do something. I am dying with pain,” shouted Arafat, weeping in the intensive care unit of Shri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital here.

Doctors said Arafat has pellets in his heart, abdomen and intestines — some even touched his spine. “He needs multiple surgeries as the pellets have penetrated his vital organs. Specialists from different departments are with him. We have kept him under observation to see how he responds to the treatment within 48 hours,” said a doctor. “We can’t predict anything about his situation at the moment.”

Rashid was also hit by pellets in his right eye and chest. Abdul Rehman, Arafat’s father, said the children were hit when they were playing cricket outside their homes in Khanabal.

“There were protests and clashes during the day. Security forces then left and everything was normal. The children went out to play cricket. In the meantime, the forces raided the place from behind and fired pellets towards the youth. Our kids were also hit,” Rehman said, stressing that the use of force was totally unwarranted.

Anger has been brewing after security forces fired bullets and pellets against those pelting stones to protest the death of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter on July 8. Forty-five persons have been killed and over 1,900 injured, around 600 of them due to pellets, in the 12-day unrest. Many among these injured by pellets are children.

Insha Malik, a resident of south Kashmir’s Shopian district, was blinded in both eyes by pellets fired by forces on July 12. The 14-year-old was hit by nearly 100 pellets while she, according to her family, was inside their house in Sedow village.