Scars of the Pellet Gun – Review

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“This book is not in any way a political lecture, but it is a compassionate and an enthralling work of the author who has based his stories on factual confrontation…”

Reviewed by Javeria Khurshid

Author: Mannan Bukhari

Price: INR 450

Publisher: Partridge India

ISBN: 978-1-4828-5007-9

Year of publication: 2015

Scars of Pellet

Scars of Pellet Gun is a debut narrative lucidly penned by Mannan Bukhari, a human rights activist and defender who is presently heading legal division of All Parties Hurriyat Conference. It is a gripping tale that produces facts in the best possible way and at the same time emphasizes the tyranny that Kashmir has been confronting all through the years with the traumatic repercussions.

The foreword to the book has been scribed by the renowned Human Rights Activist, Gautam Navalakha, who has illustrated that the magnitude of this book reclines in its intricate factual collating and assemblage of data acquired through RTI, medical practitioner’s observations on pellet-caused injuries and fatalities, stories of some of the survivors and experiences by the victims, accounts of family members who recall the real life happenings.

Pellet injuries and fatalities have been a burning issue since their inception in 2010 agitation mostly on unarmed youth of valley who were protesting against the illegal occupation and killing of innocent youths in Kashmir. Pellet guns were introduced in Kashmir as ‘non-lethal alternative’ in order to quell the pro-freedom cavalcade but the ramification of the injuries have been borne by the sufferers.

Bukhari clearly highlights the noxiousness of pellets and the severe damage it can cause if it hits vital organs. Attention has been drawn to the fact 70,000 have been killed, nearly 8,000 have been subjugated to enforced disappearance, and thousands have been raped.

Scars of Pellet

The narrative proffers an inclusive package on this burning issue of pellet gun as all the microscopic and macroscopic details are taken into account: statistics, agonized reports, traumatic tales, other authors writing from time to time about this issue and journalistic accounts. Pertinently, the cover page of the book has been designed by Tasaduq Hussain Baba, a student of Journalism and Mass Communications, IUST, which portrays an X-ray of pellet victim, which is quite apt.

The heart- wrenching accounts of various victims have been documented with precision and it reminiscences the beginning of turmoil in Kashmir way back in 1990s with Indian government enacting the black laws like AFSPA, TADA, and PSA that were imposed on people to shield the armed forces, who later under the garb of these laws, unleashed a reign of terror by mass murdering, torturing, mass rapes, illegal detainment and confinement and enforced disappearances of hundreds of people and turned once the Paradise of earth into an ugly military garrison where more than 600000 troops make their presence.

Scars of Pellet Gun engrosses the readers right from the first page, it entwines you with the harrowing history of your loved home, and one is impelled to muse on more than the two decades of chaotic unrest that has given all of us sleepless nights and some of the most miserable memories. This book is not in any way a political lecture, but it is a compassionate and an enthralling work of the author who has based his stories on factual confrontation. The stories exposing the structure of brutal force on innocent people of Kashmir have been knitted in such a way that the readers are bound by the thread of sequence of events to ‘unrest’ until they finish the book to its end with lingering hangover.

The book is a significant literary response to the catastrophic turmoil in the valley that has darkened the lives of millions.

The book is divided into nine chapters recording the gruesome tales and facts and at the same time illustrates the 2010 SKIMS study from June 2010 to September 2010 alone wherein 198 patients ranging from as young age as 6 years to elderly ones being 54 years who had sustained pellet wounds especially of the eyes which have been the main cause of concern for the loss of vision.

Musaib Ahmad, a brilliant student of Sheikh-ul-Aalam High School, victim of pellet injury recollects the traumatic experience and it is agonizingly heart breaking when he muses, “Instead of being in hospital we landed in police lockup and the brutal cops didn’t allow us to reach hospital for treatment. In police lockup, we were requesting for medical help but instead of that we received slaps and kicks. Blood was oozing out of my eye and I was in great pain. I begged them for medical help but they didn’t pay any heed to my woes. With pellet inside my eye, I was put behind the bars in a dark and dirty lockup. Next day only a pain killer injection was given to me on the name of medical treatment.”

Although the police agencies term the pellet guns as non-lethal but the doctors have urged that, the injuries afflicted by such weapons are more lethal than the bullets.

Bukhari in his book does not only deal with the number of deaths these toxic pellets have caused, but also aftermath of the injury-wounds leading to complete or partial vision disability among the victims like Danish Ahmad Sheikh, Owais Amin Dentho, Parvaiz Ahmad Kaloo, Musaib Ahmad, Farooq Ahmad Malla, Muhammad Sidiq Chotta and many others.

The book is an intrigue read with a clear message to wake us up from the deep slumber since the trauma and melancholy brought on these victims have become unnoticed with the passage of time and it is high time the government is compelled to ban its use in any form and in any way.

Although the police agencies term the pellet guns as non-lethal but the doctors have urged that, the injuries afflicted by such weapons are more lethal than the bullets. The book is a significant literary response to the catastrophic turmoil in the valley that has darkened the lives of millions.

Javeria Khurshid (1)(Javeria Khurshid is Assistant Professor, Dept of English Language & Literature, IUST)

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