Umar Fayaz, 17, is the latest victim to be blinded by pellet ammunition used by government forces in Kashmir. One of his eyes is covered by a thick padding of bandage, the other is bleeding profusely, his front teeth are shattered, his nose is full of clotted blood and the entire face and neck are pockmarked by tiny pellets.
Fayaz was injured when government forces fired into civilian protesters who were trying to distract the government forces from an anti-militant operation in which two militants and a civilian were eventually killed, in Gooru village of Pulwama district, on Tuesday.
He is the 71st person who has suffered pellet injuries in both eyes since 9 July last year during protests.
Doctors said Fayaz has “grave eye injuries” and some pellets had penetrated into his skull and chest.
“He is vomiting, which is not a very good sign,” said doctors treating him at the Trauma Theatre of the SMHS Hospital.
“For now we have sealed the perforations in his eyes. His chest injuries too might need surgery,” the doctors said.
Umar’s mother Muneera, who was crying nonstop, took some money out of her purse and gave it to a beggar.
“Take everything I have but ask God to save my son’s life and eyes,” she told the beggar.
Fayaz’s brother waves a hand fan “because he told me his face was burning”.
“My brother is in pain,” he says.
In another ward of the hospital, doctors struggle to stabilise Jehangir Ahmed, a 25-year-old youth shot in chest with a bullet by government forces at Pulwama today.
A draining bag connected to his chest has become full of a bloody fluid, and the vital signs monitor connected to him beeps on with readings that doctors find concerning. “His is unstable. He has contusions in chest. We are trying to stabilise his blood pressure for now,” surgeons at Emergency Ward of the hospital said.
The condition of a teenager identified as Akeel Ahmed from Haal Shopian, who was being shifted to SKIMS Soura from district hospital (DH) Pulwama, was also stated to be critical.
The medical superintendent of the Pulwama district hospital said Akeel had a bullet injury in the abdomen and was brought to the hospital in “a state of shock”.
“Referring him to Srinagar in that condition was risky. We operated upon him. It was an extensive surgery. We have referred him to SKIMS for ventilator support now,” the medical superintendent said.
As per SMHS Hospital records, 17 people with firearm injuries were admitted to the hospital on Tuesday.
Of these, five had pellet injuries in eyes, nine had bullet injuries two had pellets in parts of body other than eyes and one had a shell injury.
One of the injured, Sakina Bano, a 30-year-old female from Narbal, Pulwama, has been hit in both thighs with bullets.
“I was inside my own house. They came in big trucks, opened fire on houses,” she said.
“What did we do to get bullets? Were we militants too?” she said.
Her pleas are echoed by many other injured people and their attendants.
At SKIMS Medical College Hospital, Bemina, two teenagers with eye pellet injuries were admitted for treatment. One of the injured, hospital administration said, was a resident of Bemina, while the other was brought from Ganderbal.
At SKIMS, Soura, a person identified as Inayat Ahmed from Chatapora, Pulwama, was being treated for pellet injuries in both eyes.