IMPHAL : Controversy erupted in the strife-torn state of Manipur over reported use of pellet guns on agitators during the recent students’ protests against the killing of two young students in Bishnupur district. In a massive protest in Imphal East and Imphal West districts, around 100 students were injured, and of them, at least 10 have suffered pellet injuries — much similar to what happened in Jammu and Kashmir in 2016.
Hospital sources said that several students, including minors, received multiple pellet wounds on the shoulders, heads, eyes and limbs.
The injured students are now undergoing treatment at different hospitals in Imphal, drawing a grim reminder of the security forces using the same weapons to quell protests in Jammu and Kashmir.
Many organisations, including the Manipur Commission for Protection of Child Rights (MCPCR), and several political leaders, including ruling BJP MLA Rajkumar Imo Singh, strongly condemned the actions of the security forces to deal with the students’ agitations in Manipur.
Director General of Police Rajiv Singh has constituted a committee headed by K. Jayanta Singh, Inspector General of Police (Administrations), to look after the allegations of excesses of security forces during the students’ agitations this week.
A retired police officer said that the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, taking serious note of using pellet guns on protestors in J&K, had asked Delhi to end the use of the weapon.
In the UN Report on Children 2021, he called upon the Central government to take “preventive measures to protect children, including ending the use of pellets against children”.
The students’ protests erupted after photos of the dead bodies of two teenaged students, including a girl, who went missing on July 6, went viral on social media.
A 17-year-old Class 12 student, Loitongbam Kishan, was one of the student protesters whose right shoulder was hit by pellets fired by the security forces from close range.
According to the plastic and reconstructive surgeon Indranil Dutta, Kishan was brought to the emergency ward of the private Shija Hospitals here bleeding profusely and in serious pain.
Upon examination, an emergency surgical operation was performed on Wednesday to remove the pellets, as well as to control the bleeding and repair the structure.
“There were approximately 90 pellets. As these are very small pellets, it is not possible to remove everything because that may damage the function of the shoulder,” the surgeon said.
“In order to preserve the function of the shoulder, I’ve removed around 60 pellets. The patient is recovering but shoulder function may take 3-6 months’ time to regain,” the doctor added.
Narrating the excesses of the security forces leading to his grievous injuries, Kishan said: “They started dispersing us using tear gas. I was hiding behind a house. After a while, after the commotion had died down, I came out of the hiding. Just then, security personnel came charging in and we were face to face. He then put his gun on my shoulder and shot me.”
Another 20-year-old student protester, Uttam Soibam who sustained multiple pellet wounds on his head was operated on Friday, at a private hospital in Imphal.
Surgeons successfully removed over 61 pellets from him and declared him out of danger.
However, he would need several surgeries to remove the entire pellets struck on his skull, the doctors said.
Soibam, who is a national Wushu player, narrated how he sustained his injury.
Taking note of the people’s ire, a meeting of senior Central Armed Police Force officers was held at Manipur police headquarters here on Thursday and discussed the fall-out of the current law and order situation. — IANS