INSHA LATIEF/NAZIMA SIDIQ
PULWAMA: The best memories in a girl’s life are her participation in the arrangements of her elder sister’s marriage. But for Shabroza Mir, the horror of pellets not only left her half-blind but also stole the much-cherished occasion of seeing off her elder sister in bridal dress.
The life of 18-year-old Shabroza, a resident of Rohmoo village in Pulwama, has changed forever after a volley of pellets hit her last year. After spending months in hospital, Shabroza returned home but her life has not been the same.
She recalls the fateful day on October 31, 2016 when her entire family had gone out for shopping in connection with the preparations for her elder sister’s marriage. These were the days when entire Kashmir Valley was in the middle of an anti-India uprising triggered by the killing of iconic Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani.
Soon after the family members left the house, a massive protest erupted in the village. While chasing away the protesters, the government forces barged into the residential houses and began large scale ransacking. Sensing trouble, Shabroza decided to leave the house for safety.
“They (forces) were beating people and breaking whatever came in their way. We possessed jewelry and other expensive things at home. Out of fear, I couldn’t decide what to do,” she recalled. “I thought if forces barged inside, they might harm me. With this thought, I decided to leave the house,” she said.
The decision to run away from the home proved to be the biggest mistake of her life. While she was running towards a neighbour’s house, she was targeted by the government forces with a pump action gun that sprayed a pattern of pellets on her. She collapsed midway and lost her conscience.
“I don’t know what happened later. When I opened my eyes again, I found myself in hospital. There was darkness all around and my left eye was paining,” she said.
She said that everybody around her in the hospital was writhing in unbearable pain. “Many people suffered pellet injuries in body, head and eyes too,” she said recalling her terrible days spent in the hospital.
The doctors told her that a pellet had pierced through her left eye and required a series of surgeries to save her vision. Since then she has undergone several surgeries. She has undergone three surgeries so far and the fourth one is scheduled in a few days.
“My family never talks about my medical expenses but I know they have spent lakhs of rupees and God knows how much money is still to be spent,” she said.
Shabroza is the youngest of her siblings who had lot of hope to pursue education. However, the pellet horror truncated her educational journey in IX standard. “I had a dream of studying higher, getting a job and fulfilling my own dreams and those of my family,” she said.
But, instead of living an independent life, the pellet shower left her partially handicapped. She is dependent on her friends for some of the basic needs. For the past one year, her close friends have been helping her to manage day to day things like combing her hair, bathing and washing. “My sister is married off and I don’t want to strain my mother in her old age so my friends come after school and help me in everything,” she said.
Shabroza usually stays alone at home. All the memories of the fateful day brings chill down her spine. When her sister got married, she was in hospital and couldn’t see her in bride’s dress. The mention of her sister’s marriage upsets her.
Shabroza is worried about her future and seeks effective rehabilitation for her independent future. “The government has left the pellet victims to fend for themselves. This handicap has been forced on me. It is the responsibility of the government to rehabilitate us,” she said.