Month after month, more and more pellet victims are face to face with the reality that their eyes have no perception of light, or nothing more than just perception of light.
Doctors said that 33 pellet hit individuals have no perception of light in at least one eye. As per officials in health department, many pellet hit whose both eyes had been hit by pellets had either one of the eyes eviscerated or so badly damaged that they had no perception of light in the injured eye(s). "Look at InshaMushtaq, look at Danish Rajab, Abdul AhadBhat… these victims have no vision left in their eyes," a senior doctor at SMHS Hospital said.
During the past 132 days of pro-freedom agitation in Kashmir, about 96 civilians have been killed, about 15000 injured and about 10000 arrested by security forces. About half of the injured have been fired with deadly pellets in face and eyes.
Doctors said at least six people have been completely blinded by pellets. "They have zero percent vision. Both their eyes are totally damaged by pellets. They can see nothing but darkness," doctors said.
However, apart from those that doctors club together as totally blind, there are many who are not being termed blind because they can tell if a light is shined on their injured eyes; although nothing more than that.
A doctor at SMHS Hospital wishing anonymity said that pellets literally killed the eyes with many mini-bullets. "Government is asking us for details of those grievously injured by metallic pellets that forces fired on eyes of over 1000 people. All of those injured by pellets in eyes are grievously injured, we have told them," an eye surgeon said at GMC Srinagar.
He quoted Section 320 of Indian Penal Code that stated that any injury to eye that induced permanent vision loss was a 'grievous injury'.
The fate of hundreds of victims, doctors said, is being discussed in very technical terms that are meant to create confusions. They said that pellet injuries were causing more vision loss than any eye disease or eye trauma, and there were no two opinions about it.
Mir Nasir, the 16 year old from KalseriPattan refuses to accept that his eye injuries will cost him his vision. "I can see forms of people and things with my left eye. I can also tell if it is night or day," he said, while blinking, rubbing and straining it open many times. "Although my right eye has been rendered useless because I cannot see anything with it, my left eye will improve," he said.
"We will do anything to get his vision back," Ashfaq Ahmed, a cousin of his said.
However, after two or three surgeries, one for sealing the wound and the subsequent for vitreous hemorrhage and retina repair, as per the need, it's no dramatic change for many victims.
Shakeela, the 35 year old woman who was hit by pellets in both her eyes reportedly in a lonely lane when she went looking for her five year old son is left with only one eye that can see 'just a little'. Divorced by her husband, Shakeela wanted to be the kind of woman who would compensate for the absence of a father in her son Faheem's life. "I am a burden now with no vision of any use left in my eyes," Shakeela said.
Mohammad Shafi, a 20 year old youth from KanihamaBudgam who had a repair surgery and a vitrectomy in his right eye, injured by pellets was recently admitted for a repeat vitrectomy at SMHS Hospital for the complaint of pressure building up in his operated eye. "I could not see with my eye but even the forms that I could make out have started becoming more blurred," Shafi said.
Altaf Ahmed Khan, a 25 year old from Shopian whose right eye was hit by pellets complains of similar issues. "I can see nothing but streaks of light with this eye," Altaf said. Doctors said there were two pellets closely abutting his optic nerve, a sign of a really severe injury.
"We are operating on him and apart from clearing hemmorage in his eye, we will also repair his retina and hope he is able to see more than light," an Ophthalmologist at SMHS Hospital said. This was Altaf's third surgery.
However, beyond hopes of miracles emanating from the advanced eye surgeries that SMHS Hospital has been performing on pellet eye victims, doctors believe not much can be done. "We are putting the best of medical sciences but there is no guarantee to bring back the vision in an eye that has been burst open by pellets," doctors believe.