Shopian: Among the many young men who have lost or almost lost eyesight due to pellet injuries in Shopian district is Abrar Ahmad, to whose elder sister was married to the slain militant commander Zeenat-ul-Islam. Abrar was hit by pellets at the funeral of Zeenat-ul-Islam, when government forces opened fire at the gathering of mourners, injuring at least eight persons with bullets and dozens others with pellets, on January 13.
Son of Muhammad Yousuf Lone of Turkwangam village, Abrar is currently undergoing treatment at Sohan Singh’s eye hospital in Amritsar. He sustained serious pellet injuries on his face and eyes in the firing by government forces. His elder brother, Shahnawaz Ahmad, said that people were simply taking part in the funeral of Zeenat-ul-Islam when government forces arrived and started indiscriminate firing. “My younger brother was shouldering the coffin of Zeenat-ul-Islam when government forces directly targeted him with pellets,” he said, adding that everyone knows that the forces came with the sole intention of killing and maiming people.
Family members of Abrar told Kashmir Reader that he was preparing for entrance exams for a masters course. They said after completing graduation last year, Abrar was preparing for the examinations sincerely even though their house was damaged by government forces last year, along with two other houses of neighbours, during an encounter with militants on May 2.
Shahnawaz said that when Abrar was hit by pellets, he was first taken to SMHS hospital in Srinagar. “After preliminary check-up and medicines, we took him to Amritsar where doctors three days ago operated on his right eye. They told us there are slight chances of his regaining eyesight,” he said, adding that Abrar’s left eye is completely damaged by pellets, with no chances of regaining sight.
Family members said that forces targeted their son from close range, and the intensity of pellets was such that two teeth of Abrar fell on the ground when the pellets hit him on the face. “Not only the eyes and teeth, he has some pellets deep in his head, for which doctors told us that some of them can be removed but the others may stay there due to the deep injuries,” a family member said.
Another example of pellet horror in Shopian is Arshid Ahmad, resident of Sarband village. Just a year after his marriage, he lost sight in both eyes in 2016. He has an infant daughter and owns a kanal of land, which is all his property. Before his injury, he was working as a cook who prepared wazwan at marriages and local functions.