What happens when the tragedy of other people suddenly takes on the faces of people you know?
A human rights group has done exactly that: it has superimposed pellet injuries which are currently being inflicted on Kashmiri people on the faces of popular Indian actors, famous people including Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and even Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The series of images titled ‘India Can’t See’ created by Never Forget Pakistan were uploaded on Facebook on Monday. Even as the images go viral, shocking people into looking at the pellet injuries differently, the CRPF has stated that while it sympathises with the people injured, it claimed it had no other choice.
“We feel very sorry for them as youngsters have to bear injuries due to the firing of pellet guns. We ourselves are trying to use it in bare minimum so that there are less injuries. But we use them under the extreme situation when crowd control fails by other means,” CRPF DG K Durga Prasad said on Monday.
The Indian Express had reported that half of the 317 people who had sustained pellet injuries had been hit in the eye.
The ‘India Can’t See’ campaign has gone beyond just shock value. The image of each famous personality on which pellet injuries are superimposed is accompanied by letters and the names of real victims.
Would we still be silent if it were them, the campaign asks. “Why do we need to glamourize a tragedy in order for people to pay attention. Have we all become that numb?”
What makes pellet guns so lethal? These small metal balls, which may or may not be covered by rubber, are shot at a close range. According to a report by Aviral Virk in The Quint, reports suggest that the CRPF has been using bare metal pellets and from a close range, causing more permanent damage than crowd control.
Pellet guns are also supposed to be fired below the knee. However, 92 Kashmiris have undergone eye surgeries in just one of Srinagar’s hospitals, indicating that the below-the-knee rule is not being followed.
A number of pictures and stories of Kashmiri youth and children as young as four being hit by pellet guns have been circulating on the social media.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh has said that the government would look for replacement to the pellet guns.