The J&K Government may claim that it is using non-lethal weapons to quell street protests in Kashmir, but medical evidence clearly suggests otherwise. Studies conducted by doctors to analyze the effect of non-lethal weapons on protesters have concluded that these are lethal.
A study conducted at SK Institute of Medical Sciences here during the 2010 unrest has compared pellet injuries with bullet injuries. "Pellets should be evaluated and managed in the same way as those sustaining bullet injuries," the study revealed. "While the pellet wound itself may seem trivial, if not appreciated for the potential for tissue disruption and injuries to the head, chest, and abdomen, there can be catastrophic results."
The study—Pellet gunfire injuries among 'agitated mobs' in Kashmir—was conducted by a team of medicos at SKIMS between June 2010 and September 2010.
According to the study, six deaths (3.03%) were caused by pellet gunfire in 2010.
A total of 198 patients admitted to SKIMS with pellet gun injuries were studied in terms of anatomic site, severity and type of injury, treatment, and outcomes.
Another study—Pattern, presentation and management of vascular injuries due to pellets and rubber bullets in a conflict zone—has been undertaken by a team of doctors at SKIMS. It has revealed that "pellet and rubber bullets can cause serious life-threatening injuries".
"Vascular injury caused by these weapons need no different approach than other vascular injuries," the study reveals.
The study was conducted in 2010 when Kashmir witnessed massive protests following the killing of Tufail Matto by forces in Srinagar. Another study conducted by medicos at Government Medical College Srinagar on pattern of eye injuries has concluded that injuries due to pellets are "mostly perforating."
The study titled 'Pattern of ocular injuries in stone pelters in Kashmir Valley' was also conducted during the 2010 unrest.
A study on orthopedic injuries caused by rubber bullets in Kashmir has concluded that there is a need to reclassify the weapon as lethal. "Our findings suggest that these weapons are capable of causing significant injuries including fractures and it is important for the surgeon to be well versed with the management of such injuries especially in areas of unrest. The report is also supportive of the opinion that these weapons are lethal and should hence be reclassified," the study—pattern of rubber bullet injuries in the lower limbs—concluded.
The study was conducted by a team of doctors led by known orthopedician Dr Shabir Ahmad Dhar.