Sopore: Firdous Ahmad Dar, 25, is one of the many who have been blinded due to being shot at with pellets when the government forces were repressing the 2016 uprising. Wounded in his eyes on July 15 in Mazbugh village of Sopore in Baramulla district, Firdous Ahmad was an auto-rickshaw driver by profession. He said he was returning from the town market when he was hit. The pellets are still lodged in his eyes.
Villagers usually call him by his nickname Fira. His father, Gulzar Ahmad Dar, was a tailor by profession till the army took him from his house and interrogated him so violently that his foot was grievously injured. Since then, Gulzar Ahmad is in no position to work, but the blinding of his son has made him think of finding work somewhere. Firdous Ahmad was the sole bread-earner for his family.
The eldest sibling in his family, Firdous said he had returned home from the local mosque for a mid-day meal after attending Friday prayers, after which he went out to buy vegetables for the dinner. “While I was coming back, a number of security forces’ vehicles passed by. After a few seconds, suddenly, a vehicle of CRPF appeared and the CRPF men fired directly at me. There were no protests taking place in the area at the time,” Firdous said.
“All I remember after that is being taken to Sopore sub-district hospital. There, I felt someone touching my eyes. Later I came to know from my cousin that I had gone through a major surgery in my eye. While I was lying on bed, with bandages over my eyes, I heard people whispering that I had been hit badly and I may not be able to see. I started crying and felt helpless. It was the most difficult time of my life,” Firdous recalled and tears fell from his eyes.
The youngest brother of Firdous wiped the tears from his brother’s face, after which Firdous resumed speaking. “After I went through two surgeries, one in each eye, we came to know that the government had decided to take me to some big hospital in Delhi. I felt hopeful. When we reached AIIMS, the doctors who came to see me said they were unaware of what pellets were. I was there for twenty days, but no surgery was done on my eyes. There were just the eye-drops that we had to buy ourselves,” Firdous said.
“In those twenty days, Rahul Gandhi, Haseeb Drabu and some minister visited me for a few minutes. They only asked me how did it happen, as if they did not know, and then they left,” Firdous said.
“I have gone through three surgeries but there is still no sign of light. Doctors in Srinagar say that I will have to go through more surgeries. I have to go to Srinagar once in a week for check-up. Nobody in our family is earning right now. It is the people living in our mohalla who have helped a lot. I am really thankful to them,” Firdous said.
Fareeda Begum, mother of Firdous, said that the family had to sell their only piece of land to an auto-rickshaw for Firdous. “Now who will support us in our old age? My other children are too young to work,” she rued.
Firdous has no idea what will become of his life. Doctors have told him that even if he regains some eyesight, he would not be in a position to do any professional work.
Firdous used to earn 300 to 400 rupees in a day. He was unaware of the recent announcement made by the government that a job will be given to those who have been blinded due to pellets.