Every 2nd hour, 'lethal' pellets rupture an eye in Kashmir

Every 2nd hour, 'lethal' pellets rupture an eye in Kashmir

In 54 days, 664 persons hit in eyes as use of ‘deadly’ weapon continues unabated

On Wednesday, Srinagar’s SMHS hospital admitted four young boys with pellet injuries in their eyes. For surgeons at its Ophthalmology department, the day was less burdensome even as the scheduled vitrectomies went on till late in the evening.

“Today was much better and we got more time to concentrate on patients requiring retinal surgeries,” said a surgeon at the department, referring to less number of eye cases admitted there.

 But, there have been days when the hospital admitted dozens of persons with pellet injuries in their eyes and the surgeons at the Ophthalmology department had to work non-stop for days together to carry out the preliminary repairs of the damaged eyes.

“There has not been a single day when we didn’t receive an eye injury case since the situation erupted,” said a surgeon. “Usually, it is during the evening time that persons with pellet injuries to their eyes start reporting at the hospital.”

Another doctor took over the conversation.  On an average, he said, one person is getting hit by pellets in eyes every second hour.

Quoting figures, the doctor said, at last 664 people have suffered pellet injuries in one or both eyes, during the past 54 days of anti-India uprising in Kashmir triggered by the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani on July 8. While 580 persons with pellet injuries in their eyes have reported at the SMHS hospital, the SKIMS Medical College Hospital at Bemina here has so far treated 84 persons with pellet injuries to their eyes.

“It means 12 eye injuries per-day and it is shocking,” said the doctor.

The metallic pellets, which were first used in Kashmir during the 2010 summer uprising, are fired by forces armed with pump-action shotguns to disperse crowds. But once they hit the eye, the pellets result in deadly injuries ranging from ruptured retina to cornea tear and severed optic nerves and threatening hemorrhages.

“Most of these injured are teenagers,” said the doctor, adding a large number of these patients would not be able to regain the normal vision.

Then, there are also cases like 29 persons who have both their eyes badly injured by pellets, besides 10 to 15 persons whose one eye has got ruptured completely by the pellets.

It is these eye injuries which have become focus of attention in Kashmir which has witnessed 70 civilian killings and injuries to over 6000 persons in forces’ action during the ongoing uprising.