Sat, Oct 29, 2016 | updated 04:58 AM IST

HC disapproves use of pellet guns in J-K, seeks Centre's report

Updated: Jul 27, 2016 18:31 IST

Srinagar, July 27 (ANI): Days after the Ministry of Home Affairs ( MHA) constituted an expert team to explore possible alternatives to pellet guns amidst strong criticism, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court has asked the government to review their use for crowd control in Kashmir, saying untrained personnel have made the pellets lethal.

Hearing a related Public Interest Litigation ( PIL), a division bench of Chief Justice N Paul Vasantha Kumar and Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar observed: "You may treat it (pellets) as non-lethal but an untrained person makes it lethal. We hope it is reviewed."

"Can't you employ orthodox methods like water cannons and teargas to disperse the crowds?" the High Court said.

While the government informed the court that 2000 paramilitary CRPF personnel were also injured in the protests since July 9, the High Court said: "People's protesting does not mean you should render them disabled."

Disapproving the use of pellets, the High Court observed: "Pellet gun is being used indiscriminately. Maximum people have suffered injuries in eyes and other vital parts of the body."

In response to the High Court's observation that it will be difficult to treat the patients suffering from shrinkage of eyeball after three weeks, Advocate General Jahangir Iqbal Ganai said, "We have best doctors available at SMHS hospital."

The High Court, however, retaliated: "We don't question the competence of our doctors but are concerned about equipment."

In his status report, the Principal of Government Medical College Srinagar has stated that since July 9, the department of Ophthalmology at SMHS hospital has received 183 patients out of whom 148 have undergone primary repair "under all aseptic measures."

Terming media reports that six patients have lost vision in both eyes as "untrue", the report said: "20 patients have bilateral eye injury out of which three patients are badly injured and are still under treatment/management and it is too early to comment that these patients have lost their vision in both the eyes."

"It is true that one eye of 10 patients was badly damaged at the site of impact due to pellets and accordingly their one eye was eviscerated to prevent sympathetic ophthalmitis in the other eye," the status report said.

The status report revealed, "130 patients, and not 140 as reported in media, need secondary intervention after three to four weeks which includes retinal surgeries."

The High Court was informed that for speedy disposal of retina patients, the services of internationally-renowned retina surgeon in India Dr S Natrajan, Director Adity Jyoti Mumbai, and his team have been sought from July 26 to assist the three retina surgeons already existing in the faculty of Government Medical College, Srinagar.

"The department has taken all precautions to provide best possible treatment to these pellet injury patients to prevent shrinkage of eye ball and subsequent visual disability," the status report read.

The government also informed the High Court that GMC Srinagar has taken steps to treat the pellet injury cases on priority, which also includes conducting retinal surgeries.

"An expert team of retina surgeons from All India Institute of Medical Sciences New Delhi was invited to assess/examine and advice regarding management of these patients and they were satisfied with the treatment provided by the department of Ophthalmology," the government said.

The pellet gun has been in use in the Valley since 2010. Pellets are loaded with led and once fired disperse into huge numbers. Pellets penetrate the skin, especially soft tissues and eyes. (ANI)