By Ubeer Naqushbandi
Srinagar: Two teenage boys lie side by side in the ophthalmology ward of SMHS hospital, but unable to see each other. A curtain of blindness hangs between the two. One of them, Nasir Latif, 16, has been hit by pellets in his left eye, while Sabzar Ahmed Malik, of the same age, has been hit by pellets in his right eye.
Both of them, lying flat on their beds, have hardly been able to see each other even though it has been three days that they have been next to each other.
The duo were preparing for their Class 1o Board exams, but “pellets have now darkened their future,” said their relatives.
Nasir, a resident of Hawoorah in Khudwani village of district Islamabad, is described by his uncle Rouf Rashid as “studious”. “He always was among the top ranks in his class. He had covered 80 percent of the syllabus by himself. But, now all is gone,” Rashid said.
On August 31, Rouf said, Nasir was hit by pellets fired by government forces. “There was a peaceful rally. Many had gathered at Khudwani village to march towards the highway. Even the troops there gave their nod and the procession marched ahead. But when about 40 people passed the spot where troops were standing, the troops got into their vehicles. Suddenly they started firing teargas shells, pellets, and bullets in the air. Nasir, who was in the procession, was hit by pellets.”
A skinny boy, Nasir said “he felt embers in his eye.”
“Blood was oozing out. I was conscious till the time some people took me on a scooty to Koimoh hospital. After that I woke to find myself in SMHS,” Nasir said.
Mohammad Azad Malik, the brother of Sabzar, a resident of Oky in district Kulgam, said “his brother is weak-hearted to the extent that a family member accompanies him during dark hours.”
A few days ago Azad said, clashes broke out between protestors and troops in their native village of Oky. “Our house lies adjacent to the main road. All our family members climbed upstairs to watch. Sabzar, who usually stays inside, went outside the gate of the house to watch the clashes. No sooner had he put his foot outside the gate, he was hit by pellets.”
Sporting a thin beard with pellet marks over his forehead and face, Sabzar said, “As soon as I went outside the gate of our house, I saw a trooper targeting his gun at me. The very next moment, I felt a needle prick in my eye.”
His brother Azad said that the injury “shocked us”. “Had it not been for our neighbours who took Sabzar to Mohanpur hospital in Kulgam and comforted us, we would have all died of shock.”
According to doctors, a first round of surgeries for primary repair has already been done on the two boys. Now another round of surgery is scheduled, depending on how well they respond to the first surgery. It usually takes around two weeks. In the second round, a vitrectomy of the eye will be done in which pellets or vitreous haemorrhage would be removed. “Afterwards, we would assess their vision recovery,” the doctors said.