9-yr-old, Kohli’s fan, blinded by pellets in right eye

9-yr-old, Kohli’s fan, blinded by pellets in right eye
Mueen-R and and Ulfat Jan-L

SRINAGAR: Mueen Mushtaq is 9 years old. On his face are dark glasses and his bed is one of the several in the ophthalmology ward of SMHS hospital. The boy who lived in Rozabal locality of Khanyar area in Srinagar, has had four pellets removed from his right eye but chances of his recovering vision are “minimal”.
Mueen quietly listens to the conversation of the people around him. A woman, seemingly in her early thirties, sits on a stool close by, wailing. She is Sabeena, Mueen’s mother.
Dark circles have formed under Sabeena’s eyes from continuous weeping. She told Kashmir Reader that on Saturday, December 24, her son came home from tuitions at 4:30pm and then went out to play his favourite game, cricket, in the nearby Radhipora cricket stadium. “I will be home by 6,” Mueen told her before leaving.
Mueen was not back by 6pm. He was at that time being taken to SMHS hospital. Mueen’s relative, Bashir Ahmed Sofi, said that Mueen was hit by pellets fired by government forces at Radhipora cricket stadium, at 5:45 in the evening.

This story, like many others, was to be published on October 3, 2016 but couldn’t bring it to our readers because of the government ban. These stories, we believe, are as relevant today as they were when they occured.

Bashir Ahmed said that vehicles of government forces were passing through the area in the evening. “Some young boys booed at them and ran away. Mueen and three other boys of his age were playing in the stadium. The government forces vented their anger on these four boys,” Bashir said.
The three other boys were hit by pellets in their body, but Mueen was hit in his right eye as well as in his chest and other parts of the body, according to his medical report.
The ophthalmologist treating Mueen at SMHS said that Mueen’s right eye had four pellets lodged inside. “The pellets formed a hole near his cornea. We have stitched that but four pellets are enough to damage an eye,” said the ophthalmologist.
“Within two weeks another round of surgery is to be done on Mueen’s eye. We will remove the cataract and vitrectomy of his eye would be also done. But chances of his vision recovery in the right eye are minimal,” the ophthalmologist said.
Mueen’s father, Mushtaq Ahmed Sofi, 35, said he was not at home at the time of the incident. “My nephew’s marriage was forthcoming. I was busy in preparations,” Mushtaq said.
Mueen’s relative Bashir Ahmed said, “I do not understand what made them fire at this tender soul. There was stone throwing but it was far away at Khawaja Bazar. Mere booing by some boys made the “disciplined” forces, as championed by the home minister, fire at this small kid?”
In a meek tone, Mueen said from the hospital bed, “Hum khel rahe they Radhpora mein. Phir baith gaye. Wahan baahar hooting hui. Hum bahar nikley. Wahan par gypsy aur one-ton they. Hum thoda aage gaye. Unhone pellet lagaye (We were playing in Radhipora stadium. Then we sat down. There was hooting outside. We went out; there was a gypsy and a one-ton vehicle. We went a bit forward and they fired pellets),” said Mueen.
Mueen said that Indian cricket team’s captain Virat Kohli was his icon.
“I was fascinated by the way he sighted the cricket ball,” Mueen said. At this, an old woman sitting near him, Mueen’s grandmother, broke down. “He was passionate about cricket,” she said of Mueen. “Whenever he used to come to my house, the first thing he did was set up a pitch outside in the lawn.”
Mueen said he “does not want to become anything now.” His father said that the day before he was hit, Mueen was watching Kohli on TV and imitating his shots.
Police in their version of events maintain that they fired because of a law and order problem in the area. “Our forces are exercising maximum restraint in the current circumstances. There are strict instructions from higher-ups in this regard. The kids may have been hit by pellets by accident,” said a police officer on condition of anonymity, as he was not authorised to speak to the press.
This story, like many others, was to be published on October 3, 2016 but couldn’t bring it to our readers because of the government ban. These stories, we believe, are as relevant today as they were when they occured.

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