SRINAGAR: Scenes reminiscent of 2016 unrest were witnessed in Srinagar’s SMHS hospital as at least six pellet hit victims were treated upon at the hospital’s ophthalmology ward that was filled with grieving attendants of the wounded civilians.
Wearing dark shades four boys of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district lay reclined on beds inside ward 18 of the SMHS hospital. All of them have been hit on eyes by pellets during clashes with government forces. The injured were protesting when an encounter was raging between militants and government forces. The government forces say then protesters were trying to help the militants escape from the cordoned area.
The wounded youngsters have been operated upon to begin a long and arduous treatment. A doctor treating the injured youngsters told Kashmir Reader that one surgery was performed and further action would be taken after due course of time.
“Two patients have pellets in both their eyes. One of them has a serious injury. Two others have injuries in one eye,” the doctor said. He said it was highly unlikely for the victims to regain their vision. “We have seen what happens to the pellet hit victims. On the basis of our experience we can say that these youngsters are in deep trouble,” he said.
The wounded have put a brave face. “We were trying to help our brothers and we don’t have any regret,” said Showkat Ahmad, who has been hit in his left eye.
The other victims chose to remain non-committal. A few attendants who spoke without being identified told Kashmir Reader that it was not in their hands to stop these youngsters from “endangering their lives” by indulging in protests during a live encounter. “We know what it means to participate in the protests during a gun fight but our conscience doesn’t allow us to stop our children from saving militants. As they (Militants) are also our own children who chose guns over stones for us,” said one of the attendants.
He said that his wife had lost two of her brothers in 2009 and 2011 protests respectively. “I have no justification to stop my children from protesting against oppression. When their mother encourages them to lay their lives for the struggle who am I to stop them,” said Bilal Ahmad, father of a wounded boy.
Another attendant said there was no fear among the youth who chose to fight with the forces amid roaring guns. “There are eleven FIRs lodged against me and I have to present myself before the police station eleven times a month. Yet there is no fear in me. I was the first one to throw stones at government forces during the encounter and I will continue doing it as long as I am alive,” he said.