State’s anti-protest weapons now a profitable plaything in Valley

State’s anti-protest weapons now a profitable plaything in Valley

SRINAGAR: In Kashmir Valley, the conflict may have become a reason for heightened sale of the pellet toy-guns that resemble the state agencies’ often-brutal weapons used during street protests or stone-pelting.
This Eid-ul-Fitr, which was celebrated across the Valley on Saturday, pellet toy-guns witnessed an extraordinary demand from kids and teenagers, with the traders estimating the total revenue earned out of the sale in two days of the festival to be in crores.
The toy-guns, made and supplied by China, are modeled on the state forces’ weapons of choice such as shotgun, pistol, AK47, and sniper rifles. And all these toy-guns, priced between Rs 30 to Rs 1800, fire pellets with non-lethal velocity.
“The latest toy-guns resemble the weapons used by forces in Kashmir. And we see a sudden rise in the demand for them, and for all kinds of them,” Muhammad Shafi, a stockist of toys in old Srinagar, told Kashmir Reader.
“We supply the products to retailers and vendors in all parts of the Valley. And we notice that the toy-guns are one of the top-selling products we have,” Shafi, who had exhausted his stock two days ahead of the festival, said.
Meraj-u-din Bhat, a roadside vendor at Khan-e-Kah here, said the children usually buy smaller toy-guns while the teenagers appear fond of the bigger models. All, however, fire plastic pellets, which can inflict pain on the target if fired from a closer range.
“We often see parents getting worried for the safety of their kids. To any parent who comes to us for buying his kid a toy-gun, we have to explain many things to convince him into buying the product,” he said.
In the recent times, Kashmir Valley has seen an increased use of the pellet guns by the state forces to counter the street protests. Considered non-lethal, the weapons have reportedly caused severe injuries to many protesters.
A youth from Palhalan town in north Kashmir, for instance, was recently reported to have received pellets in his eye and was struggling to save his eyesight.
The increased exposure to pellet guns and the discourse about them appears to be drawing kids towards the games involving pellet toy-guns.
Said a boy, Aaqib Mir, who studies in fifth standard: “I and my friends play games we call ‘encounter’ ‘shootout’ or ‘kane-jung’. And we would use the toy-guns to ‘gun-down’ the rivals”.
Aaqib lives in old Srinagar, which witnesses the use of pellet guns almost every week during protests.
“I know guns and pellet guns because I have heard about them. It feels good to play with it,” he said.