Sopore: The announcement of the ophthalmologist came like a thunderbolt to 17-year-old Zahid Ahmad Bhat, son of an impoverished horse-cart owner from a village in north Kashmir’s Sopore area.
The doctor told him that he would not be able to see from his left eye as the lethal pellets showered on him by the government forces have completely damaged the eye.
Zahid, a resident of Kranshivan village of Sopore, came to know the harsh reality during a recent check up at Srinagar.
Zahid was not a stone-thrower nor did he participate in any protest. He had gone to Sopore town to fetch study material from his friend. It was the time when massive public uprising was on in Kashmir in the follow up of militant commander Burhan Wani’s killing on July 8, 2016.
While Zahid was on way to his friend’s home, the government forces showered volley of pellets and perforated his body with almost 400 pellets. The most damaging was metallic ball that hit his left eye, Zahid’s father Abdul Majeed told Kashmir Reader.
Zahid could not prepare for the matriculation examination due to the injuries. He is now planning to appear in the second phase of the exam in February. “It is very difficult to prepare for the exams. Whenever he tries to study, he complains of pain in his head and tears start rolling from his blinded left eye,” Majeed said.
“I was at home on July 12 and thought to spend my time with books. I was not able to find the suitable material, so I called up my friend for notes who lives in Batpora Sopore. He told me to come over. When I reached his place after walking all the distance, a clash was going on there between the government forces and stone-throwers,” Zahid narrated.
He recalled that he and his friend left the area through a narrow lane and suddenly something like an electric current struck his entire body. “I felt as if my eye has ruptured. I fell on the ground with blood oozing from my head and eyes. My friend dragged me to the nearby house as the government forces were running after us,” he said.
“In the house, they sprinkled water on my eyes and head. I was not able to see anything through my left eye. I was taken to Sopore hospital for first aid and later referred to SMHS hospital in Srinagar. My eye was operated upon but to no avail,” he said.
A week later, Zahid was asked to leave for New Delhi for specialized treatment.
“The government arranged our air tickets. In Delhi, the doctors gave us medicines but no surgery was conducted. We were left in lurch,” he said.
“We were in Delhi for 22 days. We paid for everything except the travel. But the stay turned out to be futile,” Majeed said.
Back in Srinagar, noted ophthalmologist Dr Natraj conducted two surgeries on Zahid but there was no ray of hope. “I still visit doctor once in a week but I know I have to live with one dead eye forever,” he said.
Zahid was known in the family for his wit and wisecrack. Despite his mother’s demise two years ago due to brain tumour, he was lively and engrossing. “He (Zahid) was my only hope but the government forces snatched it from me. I want to give my own eye to him so that he regains his vision and brings the family back to life,” Majeed added.
Zahid says that he finds it difficult to adjust with the handicap he has suffered. “I sometimes bang with the passersby or hit a building or electric pole. People don’t know I am half blind. Sometimes I get abused,” he said.
“Last year I was hale and hearty. This year I am handicapped. This is what the government forces have done to me,” he said.