Srinagar: Human rights defender Mannan Bukhari, who heads the Kashmir Rights Monitoring Center, has drawn attention to the “blatant lie” that was Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s statement in the legislative assembly that only six persons suffered eye injuries, two of them losing sight in one eye, from pellets fired by government forces since the PDP came to power.
In a statement to the press on Friday, Bukhari mentioned that official figures provided under the RTI Act by only two hospitals of Srinagar, SKIMS and SMHS, have revealed that in the year 2015, 32 patients with serious pellet injuries in the eyes were operated at the SMHS hospital and at SKIMS, records showed that pellet injuries led to loss of eyesight in both eyes of two patients and loss of eyesight in one eye for three patients.
Since the PDP came to power, pellet guns have caused critical injuries to 80 persons, 70% of whom have developed visual disability. Since Mehbooba Mufti took over, more than 20 persons have been injured in the eye from pellets and at least one person has been operated for serious abdomen injury caused by pellets fired by men in uniform. Bukhari cited information received in response to RTI queries for these figures.
Bukhari pointed out that since their introduction in the Kashmir valley, pellet guns have killed persons named Mudasir Ahmad Hajam, Irshad Ahmad Parray, Yasir Rafiq Sheikh, Abdul Gani Gojri, and many others. Pellet injuries have completely blinded persons named Amir Kabir Beigh, Hayat Ashraf Dar, Farooq Ahmad Malla, Muhammad Sidiq Chotta, Suhail Farooq and many others. There are hundreds of victims who have lost one eye or have become visually impaired due to pellet injuries.
Terming the use of pellet guns a crime against humanity and against international humanitarian Law, Bukhari said that the chief minister’s recent statement in the assembly of only six persons having suffered eye injuries from pellets was “an attempt to obfuscate the truth and confuse the public opinion locally and internationally.”
Bukhari, who has authored a book, ‘Kashmir: Scars of the Pellet Gun’, said that before issuing statements the CM should at least go through official figures and information provided under RTI by hospitals and health institutions in the Valley.