By Nouman Parvez
ANANTNAG: Ward 7 of the SMHS Hospital here is packed with patients wearing black glasses; all of them have eye injuries inflicted by the pellets fired by the government forces from, according to them, a close range.
Among the victims is a 22-year-old Zubair Ahmad (name changed), a resident of downtown, Srinagar. The doctors have removed his one eye that got hit by pellets fired at Rainawari.
He is writhing in pain, and his wailing relatives try to bring him some relief by blowing air at his wounds. But it proves to be of no help.
‘’Zubair was not part of any protest,” his cousin Waseem explains.
“He was working in a medical agency. After curfew was lifted in and around Rainawari area, he went outside with his friends to buy vegetables at about 7pm. But they showered pellets into his eyes.”
Zubair says he was returning home when pellets were fired from inside a CRPF vehicle that was accompanying vehicles belonging to Rainawari police station.
As per his medical reports, he has received more than 20 pellets in both his eyes. The doctors had to remove his left eye while there are least chances of him regaining vision in the right eye.
“Doctors told us that there is only 20 per cent chance of him recovering his eyesight,” Waseem said.
Zubair belongs to a family that depends for its livelihood on a patriarch who is a labourer working on meager wages. Not in a position to bear his medical expenses, the family has accepted help of NGOs for shifting him to some specialised facility outside the state for treatment.
Asif (name changed) is another youth who lost his vision to indiscriminate pellet firing.
A resident of Sopore, Baramulla, he lost both his eyes when the government forces fired pellets at him from a close range, he says.
He says he was out to buy rations for the family when he got hit.
“I reached the main road where some boys were protesting. Their protest irked the CRPF men deployed in the area, and they fired pellets. I lost my conscience the moment I was shot,” he recollects.
Asif received grave injuries in both his eyes, which were pierced by countless pellets.
As per his attendants, the retina of both his eyes has got damaged.
“He will never be able to see again,” they say.
Asif, an auto-rickshaw driver, was the lone bread winner of his family, which is not in a position to shift outside state for medical treatment.
‘’He was feeding his whole family. Now, they have been left on the mercy of Allah,” his cousin, one of his attendants, says. “Who will feed and take care of them? His younger brothers, who are still studying, will have to leave their studies midway and earn for the family.’’
Most doctors in the Valley’s different private clinics, in which the patients prefer to be treated, have advised the patients to move outside the state for advanced treatment.
“My doctor asked me to go to Chennai or Hyderabad for proper treatment,” a victim whose eyes are 50 per cent damaged shares.
The last year, a one youth who had suffered about 70 per cent vision disability because of pellets regained 50 per cent of his eyesight with the treatment provided to him at Chennai, he says.