ADBAL-NIKAS (PULWAMA): Despite seven surgeries, 13-year-old Umar Nazir has been blind since 10 July 2016, after a full cartridge of pellets hit him when he was playing with his friends near the playground of Adbal-Nikas village in Pulwama. Situated some 100 metres from the playground is a forces camp that, according to locals, was used as a main station by a joint forces team to quell the protests which rose that year after the killing of the famous militant leader, Burhan Wani.
Nazir Ahmad Ganie, Umer’s impoverished father, said his son was a little boy, 11 years old then, when he was attacked by the forces. “Despite seven surgeries, my son didn’t regain his eyesight. Six of the surgeries were conducted by doctors at L V Prasad’s eye hospital in Hyderabad and one at Shri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) Hospital, Srinagar,” he said while adding that 30 pellets were still inside Umer’s body. He has 19 stitches in the abdomen, his father said.
“I didn’t see my son till the evening of that fateful day, locals present there took my son to hospital,” Nazir related. “During one of the surgeries, the doctors removed four pellets from his body, which were stuck in his liver, but they later told me that they couldn’t remove the other 30, which are in his ribs and abdomen, because Umer had lost a lot of blood. They advised that he must first regain good health.”
Nazir said that two of the pellets had hit his son’s eyes and of them only one was removed by the doctors. During the last surgery, doctors inserted a lens in Umer’s left eye, which returned it some sight, though only minimal.
“My right eye is totally blind, and I have 30 percent vision in the left eye,” said Umer, describing his condition to Kashmir Reader. “Everything looks blurred to me. I have memorised the home – like entry and exit points, doors, washroom and other things – otherwise I am not able to see.”
Umer and Nazir Ahmad live in a mud house with their five-member family. Nazir said he is a labourer and has a kanal of land where his family grows vegetables.
“I sold everything for the treatment of my son, but despite that, my economic condition was not fit to bear the expenses of medicines and surgeries for my son had I not been helped by a volunteer group in SMHS in Srinagar,” Nazir said, adding that nobody from his area came forward to help him.
“The condition of my son was horrible after being hit by pellets; there was one pellet in his private parts, two in both eyes, four in his liver and more than 30 on his abdomen, ribs and chest,” said Nazir while asking for monetary help for the treatment of his son. He said that till date Umer’s treatment had cost him Rs 6 lakh for the surgeries, equipment and treatments.
Naseema Banoo, Umer’s mother, said that when her husband leaves home in the mornings to earn some money working in orchards and people’s houses, she daily drops her son to a nearby government high school and brings him home after school is over. “He is not able to study, how can he? We have no resources to provide him a specialised education,” she said. Naseema added that on the doctors’ advice to have Umer drink cow milk, they had bought a cow for Rs 35,000, but that too died from unknown reasons two days ago.
She said that the family was hardly able to meet make ends meet, but the horror unleashed by government forces on their son has so devastated them that they are left with no option other than to pray. Although, she said, Umer’s classmates help him in school to go outside or any other issue, the family has no more money to help their little son.