Amir Kabir Beigh, 26 years old, Baramulla. “I have gone through a lot of surgeries all over India but I am still completely blind”.
At first glance, their scars look like pockmarks. Some have their eyes closed; others have a far-away look, eyes glazed over. They could be gazing out at a distant view.
But these Kashmiri men, women and children aren’t looking at anything. The darkness that surrounds them in Camillo Pasquarelli’s photographs surrounds them in life, too; they are all fully or partially blind.
Their injuries weren’t caused by ordinary bullets. Security forces in the disputed region of Kashmir haven’t used those to police demonstrations since 2010, when they fired on protesters and killed 112 people. International outcry followed, prompting the Indian government to supply regional police and the army with pellet guns they called “non-lethal.”
Danish Rajab Jhat, 24 years old, from Srinagar. His left eye was unsalvageable, so doctors replaced it with an artificial eyeball. He still has 90 pellets inside his body and from his right eye he can barely see shadows. Camillo Pasquarelli
The Kashmir valley, an area on India’s northern border with Pakistan in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, has suffered waves of intense unrest and sporadic violence since 1947, when the Hindu ruler of Muslim-majority Kashmir decided to join India rather than Pakistan. The most recent outbreak of violence began in 2016, when a popular rebel leader called Burhan Wani was killed by the Indian army. Protesters—some of whom threw stones—filled the streets of Srinagar, the state capital, denouncing “Indian occupation.” Security forces responded with pellet guns.