SRINAGAR: Pellet guns that have become the choice of weapon for government troops in Kashmir, have also now become the choice of toy for children, who this Eid have been using their plastic variants to not only target each other, but also birds and other animals.
Chinese-made toy guns have been popular since a while, coming in different variants that range from lookalikes of pistols to sniper rifles, AK- 47 and machine guns, but the market leader this time has been the shotgun variant, which fires plastic pellets.
Ghulam Mustafa, a dealer of toy guns in the old city, told Kashmir Reader that they were in huge demand during Eid among boys.
“When I was young, we, too, would buy toy guns, but in those days most of them were made by Indian manufacturers. Now the toy market across the world is controlled by China, which makes a wide variety of toy guns,” he said.
Dealers said that the toy guns sell from Rs 30 to Rs 2,000 in retail. Some variants are replicas of originals and even have a similar mechanism, which makes them a hit.
Mustafa said that the attraction of guns among children is not just because of the ubiquitous presence of guns in Kashmir, but also because of video games that children grow up playing.
“Many characters in these games have weapons that resemble the stuff made by the Chinese companies,” he said.
Dealers said that many toy guns are able to produce loud bangs using firecrackers, but a significant amount of those in demand are the shotguns that fire plastic pellets, which are supplied separately.
Muhammad Ashraf, a retail toy seller, said that some of the guns fire these pellets at very high speed. He said there is an advisory on most of these pellet guns which cautions children to not aim at eyes or other sensitive body parts.
“Some of the shotguns are similar to ones used by troops and police here. Others have a different mechanism and build,” he said, adding that many children use them for targeting small birds and animals.
Mir Farhat , who studies in Class 6, said that he bought a shotgun along with several packs of plastic pellets to scare away birds at his home.
“I aim pellets at the birds and not friends,” he said, adding that the gun only fires a single pellet at a time.
Dealers said that whether it is firecrackers or guns, parents should maintain a vigil over their children when they