NEW YORK, Sept 10 : A mass-circulation U.S. magazine has published an article focusing international attention to the horrifying injuries, including blinding, inflicted on thousands of Kashmiri protesters by the Indian security forces using the deadly pellet guns in occupied Kashmir.
TIME magazine also published photographs taken by an award-winning Italian photo/journalist of some of the victims who lost their eye sight during the brutal assaults against Kashmiri people seeking an end to the Indian occupation. In addition, the magazine carried X-ray images of the victim’s head injuries, as a testimony.
In the seven months following the young Kashmiri leader, Burhan Wani’s killing by Indian troops in July 2016, over 6,000 people were injured by pellet guns, including 782 who suffered eye injuries, Time said, citing Amnesty International. Most of the victims photographed by Camillo Pasquarelli, the Italian photographer who spent four months in Kashmir at the end of last year, were injured during that period in 2016.
Despite their devastating consequences, weapons that have the capacity to blind have nevertheless failed to generate much international attention, TIME said in the dispatch.
My main goal is to raise some awareness,” photographer Pasquarelli was quoted as saying in the dispatch. “This issue deserves to be heard.”
Each of Pasquarelli’s subjects are still coming to terms with their blindness, including the loss of not just their sight but also their ability to go to school or to work, the magazine said. They told the photographer of their pain.
Faiz Firdouz, 18, was hit by 20 pellets, two of which entered his right eye. “Why? What was my fault? Why [have] they ruined my career, my future?”
“The name can make them sound like toys, but pellet guns cause very real injuries,” TIME said. “Since 2010, pellet guns have reportedly killed 14 people in Kashmir, according to Amnesty International.
“The Indian forces call it a pellet gun, but it is a pump action shotgun,” a spokesman from the Omega Research Foundation, a U.K. based charity that monitors military technologies, was quoted as saying by TIME. “The only difference is the type of ammunition: a cartridge with up to 500 tiny lead pellets, which disperse in all directions when fired. They are commonly used by hunters.
“The ammunition is not designed for crowd control,” he added.
“This weapon should not be used at all,” the Omega Research Foundation spokesman said. “No modification could make its use compliant with international human rights law and standards.” Those laws state the use of force must be strictly proportionate and targeted. Pellet guns, on the contrary, spit a cloud of lead in all directions, making it impossible to guarantee bystanders will not be injured.”
“We tend to only be interested in weapons that kill, Dr. Anna Feigenbaum, an expert at Bournemouth University, U.K., was quoted as saying on the rise of what she calls “less lethal” (as opposed to “non lethal” weaponry). “In the era of drones and missiles and police firearm killings, a pellet gun can seem frivolous,” she said. “Except when you’re looking at these kinds of images,” referring to the victims in Indian occupied Kashmir.
“The guns are a new addition to an old conflict,” Time commented, and described the situation as “complex and evolving.”