Tavoos Hassan Bhat
I am going start to my letter with an apology and tears in my eyes. I want you to know that I acknowledge the pain and suffering I have inflicted on you as a community in general and on my victims in particular. So to begin with, I take full responsibility for my actions. Keeping all this in mind, I still feel the need to write to you to hear my side of story. I am going assume that after listening to my story you will still hate me. But, that’s okay. I am not justifying the cruel act (ions) done through me but I want to also tell you about my helplessness. Let me tell you “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” or “pellets do not blind people but people blind people”.
First of all, I want to tell you that although Kashmir is a beautiful place but I had no intention coming here; instead I was forcibly brought in 2010 by the then government. I was technically made and to be used for recreational things like bird hunting and shooting targets, and I was happy with that so let me be clear: I was not made to be used against the human race.
Now, please allow me to give you a brief introduction about myself. Normally, my pellets are round, but they can be edged and more irregular. When a single pellet is fire loaded with lead, more than 300 tiny metallic balls are sprayed indiscriminately over a wide area. I don’t follow a definite path. I penetrate the skin’s soft tissues, and the eye being the delicate structure is the most vulnerable to damage. Once these tiny metallic balls go inside an eye, these shatter tissues and cause multiple damages to all parts of the eye. So, when carrier politicians say to you I am a “non-lethal weapon”, they are lying to you. In reality, I can actually maim a person forever.
I want to let you know that my heart was broken and I am still feeling bad when I was fired on the Shopian girl , Insha Mushtaq, who was watching protests from her window and was blinded in both eyes. At that time, I wished if I could turn my muzzle towards the person who fired that pellet but could not do so.( My heart is also bleeding with helplessness for my other countless victims)
Let me read the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials which states that law enforcement officials may use force “only when strictly necessary and to the extent required for the performance of their duty” and the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms state that force should only be used when “unavoidable” and law enforcement officials should “exercise restraint” in using force and “minimize damage and injury”. Even Amnesty International India asked authorities “to prohibit firing pellet shotguns immediately in the Kashmir Valley”.
You know Amnesty International, India, further said that the use of pellet shotguns in Kashmir violates international standards on the use of force. But who cares? And, you guys know when it comes to international politics and diplomacy, the rule “might is right” is always followed; so, the mighty states get away with the wrong doings and human rights violations and only poor and week states are made to enforce UN or amnesty rules and regulations (sometimes, they take an African leader to international criminal courts to prove that there is justice and fairness in the world leaving bigger war criminals like George Bush and Tony Blair alone)
Let me come back to the main topic. The authorities say I am non-lethal but the fact is that the use of pellet shotguns is inherently inaccurate and indiscriminate. These pellets have killed at least 14 people since July 2016 and blinded many more. I hope you remember the ruling party created a big scene when it was in opposition in February 2014 in the assembly over my use in Kashmir they called me a brute pellet gun used to render Kashmiri youth without eyesight.’ But, after coming to power the same guys have failed to stop my use in Kashmir and are defending it now.
I sometimes wonder if, as per the government claim that I am non-lethal then why the Indian government did not used me against Jat rioters or followers of that rapist Baba Gurmeet SingH even when they destroyed property worth millions.
I came to know through official data that stray dogs have unleashed terror in Srinagar and as many as 30,711 dog bite cases were reported in the city and 12 dog bite-related deaths happened during the past six years. To be frank I will be happy if my services are used in this human vs canine conflict, at least, to control the canine population. I wish you know that, in Australia wild camels were harming the grazing land so instead of initiating any sterilization program they culled more than 1.5 Lakh camels until now. Ironically I found that dogs are more secure in Kashmir than humans.
Before I get further distracted, I have a suggestion for authorities: I know you guys have a duty to maintain public order, but using pellet shotguns is not the solution; you know these stone throwing kids are no more scared of me. I don’t understand why you can’t see my use has blinded hundreds and maimed thousands over the past years. Why you don’t terminate my services and look for alternate safer crown control measures in Kashmir and leave me for bird hunting and sport purpose only? I know nothing will eventuate from this letter. You’ll probably ignore it, but I still cannot stop myself from telling you my suggestions.
—The author is a Healthcare and Occupational Health and Safety professional based in Abu Dhabi. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org