“Watching cartoons on TV, playing with my friends on the street, reading books for hours - this is what I dream of now.”
- ASIF AHMAD SHEIKH
Asif was nine when he was hit in his eyes, face and torso by metal pellets fired by security forces in Anantnag, Kashmir. He was in hospital for a month, and went through two surgeries, but doctors could not save his vision in his right eye.
Asif is only one of hundreds who have lost their eyesight to pellet-firing pump action shotguns - colloquially known as ‘pellet guns’. Introduced as a means of crowd control, these weapons have blinded, killed and traumatized people in Kashmir since 2010.
Despite being inherently inaccurate and indiscriminate - the shotguns fire hundreds of metal pellets which spread over a wide area - security forces have persisted in using them to disperse protestors, often with devastating effects.
Protestors and bystanders. Journalists and medical workers. Schoolchildren and college students. They have all had their lives changed forever.
Several have not regained their eyesight despite going through expensive repeated surgeries. Some still have pellets inside their eyes, because it is medically risky to remove them.
All still struggle every day to cope.
What You Can Do
As Prime Minister Narendra Modi stated in his Independence Day speech on 15 August, the violence in Kashmir will not be resolved by ‘golis’ (bullets) or ‘galis’ (profanities) - sign the petition to demand justice and reparation for those affected by pellet-firing shotguns, and urge the central government to #BanPelletGuns !