At least 500 of pellet victims in Kashmir are aged under-20 and a vast majority of them are students who are still recuperating, according to records. Data accessed by Greater Kashmir throws up some startling figures about the number of students who have become victims of pellets hit by forces in Kashmir, and are struggling to get "some vision" back in their affected eyes.
Of 1065 pellet victims admitted at general specialty SMHS hospital, and SKIMS Medical College Hospital here with injuries to globe of eye, 523 are below 20 years in age.
The figures further reveal that 101 victims are under 15 years in age, with youngest pellet-hit person a girl child aged 4.
This recorded data about the age group of pellet victims, according to doctors, is an "evidence of a depressing scenario."
"Most of these people, aged under 20, are students. Their eye(s) have been badly damaged due to pellet injuries," doctors at SMHS hospital said.
Over the past three months, the "bad" prognosis of pellet injuries to eyes has been underlined by surgeons, both local as well as those volunteering from outside J&K to conduct surgeries on the victims.
"We cannot say which pellet-hit eye will regain vision, when, and how much," renowned retina surgeon and President of Ocular Trauma Society of India, Dr S Natarajan had told Greater Kashmir.
The age data pertains to pellet injuries over a period of 100 days starting July 9, 2016—the day protests broke out in Kashmir following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen Commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani a day earlier.
Furthermore, 370 victims with pellet injuries in their eye(s) are between the age group of 21-25 years and "many of these are also students of some degree or vocational course," doctors said.
Doctors said it takes over a year to recover from an eye injury. "They have to undergo a round of surgeries, each consuming about a month for recovering," an Ophthalmologist at SMHS Hospital said. "Moreover," he said, "patients need to take steps to prevent an eye infection and cannot resume regular activity soon."
Doctors believe that an eye trauma is a "life-changing injury" where most victims, apart from the physical trauma, also undergo psychological trauma due to impairment in a sensory organ, as well as the cosmetic effects.
Among the injured, at least 50 people have been shot in both eyes causing grave, disabling trauma, the doctors said.
Doctors fear that most of those hit by pellets in eye(s) will 'never go back to school'.