Hundreds of people have been treated for serious eye injuries at a hospital in Kashmir since violence broke out over a month ago

At least 446 patients with injuries sustained from being shot at with pellet guns, which have been used against protesters by Indian forces in the region.

A majority of victims have “multiple structural damage” to their eyes, the state government told the Jammu and Kashmir High Court.

At least 70 people have been killed in the almost daily anti-India protests and rolling curfews prompted by the killing of Burhan Wani on 8 July.

The Central Reserve Police Force, an Indian paramilitary unit, told the Jammu and Kashmir High Court that it had used 1.3 million pellets in 32 days, adding that “it was difficult to follow the standard operating procedure (SOP) given the nature of the protests”.

The news of eye injuries came as Jammu and Kashmir opposition leaders from the disputed region met Pranab Mukherjee, the Indian President, and asked him to “initiate a credible and meaningful process of political dialogue”.

“The central government’s refusal to deal with the situation through a political approach is disappointing and can have serious long-term implications on peace and stability in the state,” the wrote.

The meeting of Kashmiri leaders came a day after India’s Northern Army Commander Lt Gen DS Hooda called for talks with separatist leaders to end the bloody unrest in the region.