SRINAGAR: A mother who went out looking for her only son, a five-year-old, now lies blinded in the ophthalmology ward of SMHS hospital. Shakeela, from Sheeri Fatehgarh in Baramulla district, is the only woman in the ward, the others all males, mostly youngsters aged between 15 and 35 years, who have all been hit with pellets in their eyes.
The woman’s eyes look red as if embers have been put into them. A woman sitting next to her on a stool continuously looks towards Shakeela’s face and weeps. “I am her elder sister. She lost her eyes in search of her only hope,” the woman said.
On Friday, September 9, said Shakeela’s sister, people in the adjoining villages had decided to offer congregational Juma prayers at Heevan village ground. “Many people from our village had also gone to offer prayers at the ground. They took along the five-year-old son of Shakeela, Faheem,” said Shakeela’s sister.
As she talked, tears rolled down the cheeks of Shakeela. She spoke in grieving voice, “Yemis bachaas ni moel shund athi peth aasan, tamis che hath mael lagan. Aemis Faheem saebas che sari rachaan (A child who is abandoned by his father, many develop compassion for him. My Faheem is loved by everyone).” Shakeela was divorced by her husband. “It was not an arranged marriage. We had married for love, against our family’s wishes,” said Shakeela.
“He lived in my neighbourhood. I used to see him in the market selling beef. He was a “bud-maaz puj” (beef butcher). Then, gradually, we started developing feelings for each other,” she said.
“Shabbir’s mother did not allow me inside her house. Then we decided to live in a rented accommodation. Meanwhile, I became pregnant. We were living happily. After six months, when Faheem was born, my husband started neglecting me. He rarely used to visit us. It was like we meant nothing to him,” Shakeela rued.
“I came to know that he had fallen in love with another girl. I was disheartened and went back to my parents’ home. For five years after hectic deliberations, he finally gave me ‘Khula’ (divorce). I was not in favour of it but he was adamant,” said Shakeela.
Back at Shakeela’s parents’ home, there was her ailing mother. “There was no source of income. I did stitching and other small-time jobs to sustain my kid and myself,” she said.
Last Friday, Shakeela was washing utensils in the kitchen of her parents’ home when she heard about police action in Heevan. “Some neighbours told me that forces had raided Heevan village. I became anxious for my child. I went out to get him back.”
While searching for her son, Shakeela was struck by pellets in both her eyes. She is undergoing treatment at SMHS hospital, but is yet to recover her eyesight.