Bihari Worker Blinded By Pellet Guns in Kashmir

BAN Use of Pellet Guns By Armed Forces, Replace Military Repression With Dialogue, Protect Migrant Workers’ Rights

A teenage Bihari worker in Pulwama, Jammu and Kashmir - Mohd Shahnawaz - was recently blinded by pellet guns fired by armed forces. The CPIML has demanded action against armed personnel responding for firing on and blinding civilians and for a ban on pellet guns, as well as proper medical care for the victim to be provided by the Central Government.

Shahnawaz’s family is extremely poor and he is unable to afford full and proper medical treatment. Therefore, the Central and Bihar governments should immediately take initiatives in this matter and guarantee his medical treatment. The CPIML, in a press statement issued in Patna, noted that the Nitish government claims a decrease in migration from Bihar, but the truth is that even today the youth of Bihar are suffering the travails of migration in search of jobs and livelihood. The Modi Government at the Centre and the Nitish Government in Bihar have failed to take any measures to protect migrant workers.

CPIML leaders spoke to Shahnawaz and his brother to get details. On 31 May 2019 Mohd Shahnawaz, son of Bulki Miyan, resident of Pathraha village, Araria District, Bihar fell victim to pellet gun firing by Indian armed forces. Armed forces had resorted to bullet and pellet gun firing against Kashmiri locals who were protesting the killing of the militant Zakir Musa; such firing had killed one civilian and injured more than a 100.

Mohd Shahnawaz attended Friday Nawaz at a mosque in Pulwama, and then went to buy some provisions at a grocery shop. As the shopkeeper was busy attending to other customers, Shahnawaz had to wait for some time. Just then, he heard sounds of firing by armed forces and got so scared that he ran away. After some time he again returned to the shop to make his purchases when the security forces suddenly fired pellet guns at him, without any provocation. He fell - and the armed forces did nothing to take him to hospital. He lay on the road for half an hour till some local Kashmiri youths lifted him up on their shoulders and admitted him in Pulwama District Hospital. Pellets had hit Shahnawaz’s eyes, face, and head.

Shahnawaz was referred by the Pulwama District Hospital to SMHS in Srinagar where he was admitted for three days. His elder brother Shahbaz came to Pulwama to look after him and is staying in an ill-lighted rented room at Bellav village. His elder brother said that according to the doctors Shahnawaz has lost sight in his right eye and the left eyesight has also become very weak.

Shahnawaz had come to the valley this summer on 7 May and had been working as a construction worker in Pulwama for just 9 days. Even for these 9 days he has not yet received his wages, and because he has lost his eyesight he is unable to identify the man who had employed him. Shahnawaz’s elder brother says that this incident has completely shattered his entire family. He says that his younger brother had come with some others to work in Kashmir because they were unable to find work in Bihar. He had to borrow Rs 15000 from a neighbour in order to come to Kashmir to see his injured younger brother. He says that his family lives in a hut in a village in Bihar and he has the responsibility of three younger sisters, a disabled mother and an aged father. The entire family is dependent on the earnings of the two brothers and there is no other source of income. If they do not work, their family members will have to go without food. He said that he had to take a loan of Rs 11000 from his co-worker and Rs 15000 from his uncle for Shahnawaz’s treatment. At present neither he nor his injured brother has a job or means of livelihood; is this situation he is worried how he will repay these loans. In a few days Shahnawaz’s eyes and face will have to be operated upon, and elder brother Shahbaz is worried about how to make arrangements for money for further medical treatment. Shahbaz has appealed to the people and to the State government for financial help so that he can provide medical treatment for his brother injured by pellet guns.

The CPIML demands that the Government of India heed the demands of international human rights organisations and immediately discontinue the use of pellet guns in the name of “crowd control” in the Kashmir Valley. Pellet guns have blinded hundreds of Kashmiri civilians including children. Shahnawaz’s injury should be an urgent call to people all over India to demand that our armed forces stop using the inhumane pellet guns against civilians. We also demand that the Government of India stop pursuing the disastrous policy of waging war on Kashmiri civilians; far from curbing militancy, this will only fuel militancy and take us farther away from a solution to the Kashmir dispute. We demand that the Government of India pursue a peaceful, democratic solution to the Kashmir dispute, initiating dialogue with all stakeholders including the people of Kashmir.