In 10 days, 24 Kashmir youth hit by pellets, mostly in eyes
In Ward No 8 of general specialty SMHS Hospital here, five persons including a teenager are laying side-by-side with their eyes covered by dark glasses. They are Kashmir’s fresh pellet victims. Motionless, they are waiting for a miracle that could save their injured eyes from loss of vision.
Irshad Ahmed (18), Altaf Ahmed (13) and Waseem Ahmed (33) are new entrants to the Ward that saw hundreds of pellet-hit people admitted—one after the other—for treatment during the 2016 summer uprising. All the three are hit in one eye with pellets and hail from Tantraypora in Palhallan area of northern Pattan township. The Ward has two more pellet victims admitted who are still recovering from surgeries carried out a few days back, according to doctors. The only time these pellet victims move is when they have to wipe secretions from their eyes and none of them can see with the injured eye, the doctors said.
Waseem, a tailor by profession, cannot speak and looks blankly around with his left eye. His pellet-hit right eye is closed due to swelling.
“Waseem is mute,” a relative attending to him said. “Being handicapped, he has never-ever been part of protests.”
According to his relatives, Waseem was closing his shop—located on second-floor in Palhalan market—when he was hit by pellets.
Irshad Ahmed, a student of Class 10 was, according to his brother, on way to the family orchard when he was hit by pellets. “The tiller I drive had developed a snag and I called my brother for help. Had I known that pellets will snatch his eye, I would not have called him,” he said.
Contesting that pellets were fired on protestors, Irshad said there were no protests in the area.
Altaf, according to his father, had gone to buy fresh battery when he was hit. “His mobile battery had developed some problem and I gave him money to buy a new battery,” said Altaf’s father.
The trio from Palhalan had been given preliminary treatment for the eye injuries at SMHS Hospital and doctors said the vision restoration prognosis would be clear only after “the injured eye settles down”, implying that the blood and swelling inside the affected eye must subside. “We would try our best but we cannot guarantee anything,” the doctors have told the relatives of the injured youth.
Those who had been injured earlier and have recently undergone vision corrective surgery are keeping their fingers crossed. One of them, Faizan, a 17-year-old boy from Pulwama writhes in pain after his surgery. His brother and mother massaged his hand and head to relieve the pain till he fell asleep.
Amir (name changed), Faizan’s elder brother, said his heart sinks every time he looks at his brother’s blood-shot eye. “He just passed class 10 exams with very good marks. The whole family was so happy that day, but see what we landed into,” he said. Denying that his brother was part of any protests, Amir said: “In our village, we heard that 4 to 6 youth had blocked the road. Forces came and showered pellets on everyone who was out of the house.”
Fayaz Ahmed a youth hailing from Bandipora was hit on the same day when Faizan underwent a vision corrective surgery and waited for his vision to improve.
Recently, after a lull of about two months, pellet firing by forces has resurfaced. Doctors expressed dismay over the continued use of pellet guns and government’s failure to introduce “less lethal” crowd control measures. They said hundreds of eyes have already been lost in less than a year.