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Kashmir’s pellet-hit youth paint pale picture of government apathy, unkept promises and torment by police

Sahil Ahmad Tramboo, a 24-year-old pellet-blinded youth, was arrested by the Jammu and Kashmir Police last month under the draconian public safety act (PSA). Robbed of eyesight either completely or partially for life, Tramboo is among many youths in the state who suffer the same fate and are often deprived of the medical attention they need. The authorities claim that Tramboo was arrested as he was “clever and cunning” due to which he can’t be restrained from carrying out pro-freedom activities.

His family members consider the move as a ploy to prevent him from getting bail. The state has earlier prevented the release of youths under PSA by issuing fresh orders despite revocation by courts.

A Kashmiri boy wounded by pellets lies on a hospital bed. AFP

A Kashmiri boy wounded by pellets lies on a hospital bed. AFP

The PSA detention order of Tramboo (later on he was arrested) during the Governor’s Rule was in contrast to the policy of PDP-BJP coalition government to give jobs and monetary assistance to those who were hit by pellets in the agitation that was spurred after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant commander, Burhan Wani, in 2016. However, the government has also failed to provide the affected youths with jobs.

The detention order of Tramboo read that he has been “provoking separatist ideology”. “Your acts have turned the general masses of the district as psychological patients as they get awakened in the dead of the night by the sounds of Taranas (pro-freedom songs), slogans played on loudspeakers. In this respect police have tried to curtail your movement during the day and night hours, but failed as you and your accomplices are too clever and cunning to be restrained ordinarily,” the detention order issued on 17 September read.

Tramboo’s sister, Tabasum Jan, said that he was arrested during the night and has been now lodged at Kotbalwal jail in Jammu. “He has lost the vision in his right eye after he was fired upon with pellets during a protest at a cordon at Bellow in Pulwama last year,” she said.

Advocate Shafaqat Hussain said that keeping the detainees away from their homes was in violation of the Supreme Court judgment that calls for “detaining a person at the nearest judicial lock up.”

The authorities have also charged Tramboo of organising an anti-election campaign in Pulwama town by intimidating the local people and asking them to desist from participating in the upcoming urban and panchayat polls, a charge which was denied by Tabasum. “You have been arranging unmanageable gatherings for registering protests with a view to disturb the law and order in the area,” read the PSA detention order.

President of the Pellet Victim Welfare Association, Mohammad Ashraf Wani said that the government has failed to rehabilitate the pellet victims and was instead frequently detaining them that prevents their treatment. “We are facing a lot of problems. Should we ensure our treatment or put up an appearance before the police frequently?” he asked, adding “nearly 50 percent of the 1,220 pellet victims have police cases registered against them and we are being harassed after being called to the police stations.”

The frequent detentions happened although former chief minister Mehooba Mufti had earlier promised to provide the pellet-blinded boys with jobs. But in most of the cases which were recommended by the deputy commissioners to the home department, they have been denied employment or any monetary compensation.

In January 2018, the government said that it has provided jobs on the compassionate grounds to 13 people who had suffered pellet injuries during the agitation in 2016. Other 22 pellet-gun victims were provided financial assistance from the chief minister’s relief fund, the government said. A committee was also formed under the chairmanship of divisional commissioner Kashmir to identify people who were permanently or partially disabled during the violence in Valley to assist them with monetarily.

Pulwama deputy commissioner GM Dar, who issued the PSA detention order of Tramboo, said that only those pellet victims whose loss of vision was more than 75 percent have been provided jobs. “Those whose loss of vision was less than 75 percent have not got the jobs. We had recommended some cases to the home department,” Dar said.

In the southern district of Kulgam, jobs have been denied to many. Out of around 40 cases which were recommended to the government for jobs and ex gratia relief, only two have been provided compensation of Rs 75,000 and employment, said Kulgam additional deputy commissioner Ghulam Hassan Shiekh.

Updated Date: Oct 02, 2018 17:28 PM

Updated: October 2, 2018 — 7:25 pm
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