Study asks for classifying rubber bullets as lethal weapon

Srinagar, February 28, 2016 (PPI-OT): In occupied Kashmir, a study of injuries caused among youth in Kashmir by rubber bullets has pitched for categorization of the bullets as lethal weapon. The study that appeared in an international journal—Chinese Journal of Traumatology — focused on the severity of the injuries including nerve and tendon damages and fractures caused among youth who were hit by the rubber bullets fired by Indian police and paramilitary forces during protests in the Valley.

“It is important to understand that these weapons are capable of causing significant morbidity and hence there is a need to reclassify them as less lethal or lethal weapons,” reads the study titled ‘Pattern of Rubber bullet injuries in the lower limbs: A report from Kashmir’.

The study was conducted by a team of doctors led by well-known orthopaedic Dr Shabbir Ahmad Dhar at Soura Medical Institute in Srinagar. The rubber bullets, categorized as non-lethal at present, were used by police and paramilitary CRPF in Kashmir for the first time during the 2008 unrest.

In 2008, a downtown youth, Javaid Iqbal, was killed when hit by a rubber bullet in Nowhatta. The study covered 28 civilians, in the age group of 11 to 32, who had suffered penetrating rubber bullet injuries of upper and lower extremities from 2008 to 2010. 19 had injuries of the lower limbs and nine patients had injuries of the upper limbs. There were eight fractures, four nerve injuries, three tendon injuries and 10 isolated lacerations, as per the study.

The lethality of the rubber bullets also increases as they cause life threatening infection if left inside the body. The rubber bullets, which are fired as a single projectile, are blunt-nosed with a muzzle velocity of around 70 m/s and a kinetic energy of nearly 400 J. The study on rubber bullets highlighted that the bullets can cause significant morbidity and hence they should not be considered a safe method for controlling crowds.

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