Year after, pellet victims left to fend for themselves
A year after the uprising of 2016 in which over 1100 civilians were fully or partially blinded by government forces using pellets, the victims have been left to fend for themselves. Neither the government has planned any scheme for their rehabilitation, nor are the NGOs coming forward to help them anymore. And the Hurriyat leaders have also not been actively helping the victims.
A day after Hizbul Mujahedeen commander Burhan Muzzafar Wani was killed on July 8, 2016, NGOs thronged SMHS Hospital here, that received an overwhelming count of injured, and were helping the victims by providing them meals, buying medicines and ferrying them home in their ambulances. But a year after, the NGOs that were forced by the government to leave the hospitals, are no more seen helping the victims.
"No government, no NGO is helping us. Initially the NGOs did help us by sending us to hospitals outside the state or buying equipments and medicines for us. But, as we vanished from their eyes, we vanished from hearts as well – nobody even calls now, whether we are alive or dead," said Mohammad Ashraf Wani, president of the pellet victims association.
Adding further, Ashraf said, "I have received bullet as well as pellets, and couple of days ago I had my fourth surgery in the eye, I had to spend Rs 8000 to buy the equipment for my surgery. Being the older son in the family, whose father has died, I am supposed to earn for my family, but whatever little saving they have they are spending on me."
The government had announced to compensate the victims blinded in both eyes, and were planning to set up a blind school but the promise seems a distant plan.
Firdous Ahmad Dar, whose name was in the list of people who were to be compensated, said, "We read in newspapers that government is planning to compensate us, but on ground nothing has happened."
"Initially they sent me to AIIMS and promised help, but it's been a year now, government has not helped any of the pellet victims, nor has any Hurriyat leader or their associates ever visited my place."
The NGOs, though, have done their bit, said Saiqa Rajab, sister of fully blinded Danish Rajab, who was also figuring among the victims to be compensated by the government. "For a limited period, though, the NGOs did help us, but government did not at all."
Adding further, Saiqa, said, "We have also not seen any Hurriyat leader coming forward to help us."
Hasmat Ali Yatoo, Director Social Welfare Department said, "As of now the government has no scheme for the rehabilitation of pellet victims. As far the blind school is concerned the land has been identified."
Chairman Hurriyat (M), Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said, "Yes, there is no organized way of helping these victims, we all own institutions and help them in our own way. But, yes there is no organized set up where we can help these victims on a larger scale."
"Hurriyat leaders are under arrest all the time, so it is the duty of the masjid committees and Bait ul Maals to come forward and help. Initially we saw them participating, but then the passion slowly vanished," Mirwaiz said.
"We don't expect much from the government, they arrested them from hospital when they were undergoing treatment, Mirwaiz said.