By Shafat Mir
Anantnag: Hailing from a poor family which struggles to make ends meet, 22-year-old Sheeraz Ahmad Sopori from Gaath Batengoo in Anantnag district has recenty taken up a job of a salesman at a local shop. From his small income he is trying to save money for a big task- his eye treatment.
“I feel that my treatment has become a problem for my already impoverished family. I am trying to save some money from my meagre monthly salary, so that I can go outside valley to get the remaining two pellets removed (from my eye),” says Sheeraz who had undergone a surgery at SMHS already where one of the pellets lodged in his eye was removed.
“My family thinks that my vision has regained to some extent. I haven’t told them that it is completely blinded. If I close my right eye, I am able to see nothing,” he said.
On 8 August 2016, Sheeraz was returning home after visiting his sister in Uranhal Batengoo when he was caught in a clash on the highway.
“As I came out on the highway at Uranhall, a posse of CRPF and police chased youth who had assembled there to attend a rally. The policemen fired a volley of pellets towards me which hit my left leg, chest and my left eye,” said Sheeraz.
Although the hospital at Anantnag was nearer to the spot, Sheeraz was ferried to a health centre at Veeri, as highway was sealed by police. After his family reached there, he was moved, with much difficulties, to Anantnag hospital, from where he was reffered to SMHS.
Sheeraz’s mother Rafiqa says that on way to Anantnag hospital police and CRPF were stopping ambulances and beating attendants if they found an injured being ferried.
“I would lie on the stretcher faking to be patient while we hid Sheeraz among attendants. This worked and the forces would let us go on finding me lying inside the ambulance,” Rafiqa said.
Rafiqa is a widow who has raised her five children singlehandedly for the last two decades, as Sheeraz lost his father when he was barely eight months old.
Sheeraz’s elder brother also works as a salesman, while Rafiqa is a helper at an Anganwari centre established in her house.
“Only I know how difficult it was for me to manage all these years without my husband. I toiled hard and did my best to support my kids. Thankfully, my kids did not leave their studies,” said Rafiqa
“I had only thirty rupees in my pocket when we took him to Srinagar in a critical condition. It was his cousins who lend me some money at that time. Every time I have to take him for a fortnightly check up to Srinagar, I borrow money from people and pay them back in installments,” she said.
At the SMHS, Sheeraz underwent emergency surgery on admission, and another one a week later. A pellet was removed from his left eye while two pellets still remain lodged inside his left eye.
“The doctors had assured that his vision will get restored on its own. Till date he remains partially blinded and he cannot see with his left eye clearly. I don’t have money to take him outside state for further treatment,” Rafiqa said.
Sensing his treatment as “a sort of burden” on his family, Sheeraz started working at a local mobile phone shop as a salesman.
Sheeraz and his brother are pursuing B.A privately, but last year they could not submit the examination forms.
“Last year all the money got exhausted in my treatment. Besides I suffer from intense pain in head, almost daily now. Hopefully if I get the treatment right, I will continue my studies from next session,” Sheeraz says.
By Shafat Mir