The crowd controlling measures like pellet guns adopted by security forces during the unrest in Kashmir valley post-Burhan Wani’s killing on July 8, 2016, have left many either partially or fully blinded.
Abid (name changed), 16, who lives on the outskirts of Srinagar, is one of the many victims, who was hit by the pellet gun. The pellets fired by the security forces hit him and he has been blinded in one eye.
“On November 5, Friday, I was at my shop in the morning doing routine work. After mid-day prayers, protests started followed by stone pelting. The security forces were outside the mosque where we had gone for the prayers,” he said.
“After coming out from the mosque, I went out with my friends. On the insistence of my neighbour I went to see what was happening outside the mosque.”
“When we reached near the mosque, stone pelting was happening. I and my friend were chatting when all of a sudden a police vehicle came near us and a policeman stepped out and fired pellets at us. Though my friend managed to run away but I was hit in one eye and blood started oozing out of it.”
“After this all I was able to see was darkness everywhere. I was writhing in pain and lying on the ground.”
Mohammad Hafeez, cousin of Abid, said that on hearing this news, we ran to the spot. Hafeez said, “Someone told us that Abid has been hit by pellets. But when we reached that spot he was not there. We were told that he has been taken to Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS), in Bemina.
In the hospital, Abid was admitted in the emergency ward and had to be operated to remove two particles of the pellets from his eye.
This was just not the end of Abid’s agony, on August 6, he was referred to the Shri Mahraja Hari Singh (SMHS) hospital, in Srinagar, for further treatment, as there were more pellet particles stuck in his eye and the hospital at Bemina (SKIMS) lacked the facilities to treat such a severe eye injury.
Abid’s cousin Hafeez said, “In SMHS hospital, he had to undergo another surgery. However, the surgery was delayed, as the leading retina surgeon of India, Dr. S. Natarjan and his team, who had performed eye surgeries in SMHS hospital, were not able to visit Kashmir due to the bad weather.”
Though, the surgery was performed by an eye care centre in Karanagar, but the treatment cost was proving to be a big challenge for Abid’s family.
Abid’s father Ghulam Mohiddin said, “The surgery cost was above Rs 50,000 and it was very difficult for us to arrange that much amount. I had to borrow some money from acquaintances.”
The cataract and vetro retinal surgeon, Dr. Yasfir Basir, who performed Abid’s surgery, said the “pellets had shattered the tissues in the eye causing multiple damages. We performed the surgery but it will take several months to heal the damaged portion of the eye.”
Abid left his studies in 2013 when he was in the sixth class and started working as a barber.
“As we were financially very weak, I used to work with my cousin brother who is a barber, after school hours. But after one year, I left my studies and with the help of my father, opened a barber shop in the locality,” said Abid.
Abid’s incident is not the only tragedy that had befallen on his family.
His elder brother, Altaf (name changed) was booked under Public Safety Act (PSA) in the year 2010 and was in the Kot Bilwal jail in Jammu for 14 months.
“Altaf was not a stone pelter, he was taken into custody by police when he and his friends were walking on a road. He was then booked for various cases- stone pelting, for torching a police vehicle,” says Abid’s father.
“He is not able to work too much as the torture in jail has made him very weak,” says he.
The hardships faced by the family had left them in a deep distress.
Aisha, mother of Abid is suffering from a heart ailment and is under depression on seeing the condition of her children.