In 1 year, 16 persons lose vision in both eyes due to pellets
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In 1 year, 16 persons lose vision in both eyes due to pellets

At least 16 people have completely lost their vision in both eyes due to pellets fired by government forces on civilians in Kashmir in the past one year, according to official records, while 161 others have suffered total blindness in one eye wounded by the ‘lethal’ ammunition.

At least 16 people have completely lost their vision in both eyes due to pellets fired by government forces on civilians in Kashmir in the past one year, according to official records, while 161 others have suffered total blindness in one eye wounded by the 'lethal' ammunition.

Records maintained by general specialty SMHS hospital here reveal that since July 8 last year—the day militant commander Burhan Wani died, triggering a six-month-long freedom uprising—a total of 1,043 people have suffered damage to eye (s) by pellet shots. Of these, 70 people were hit in both eyes, causing grievous injuries and loss of vision.

"16 pellet victims have lost their vision completely in both eyes. They don't have even perception of light in both eyes. They are completely blind," a doctor at SMHS hospital explained.

In addition, 161 pellet victims have completely lost vision in one of their injured eyes. "Their one eye is completely blind, other might or might not be injured," the doctor said, adding that around 50 people whose one eye is completely lost have "minimal vision" in the other injured eye.

"Their vision is limited to hand movements in front of their eyes. Most of them cannot even move around their houses without help," the doctor said.

A senior eye-surgeon at SMHS hospital said any injury to eye is "grievous" as it causes loss of vision or blindness. "Eye injuries are disabling in nature," he said, adding that the pellet victims were "legally blind."

Legal blindness is defined as 'field of vision less than 20 degrees and a visual acuity of less than 6/60.'

Apart from injuries to eyes, pellets have injured over 10,000 people in the last one year in parts of body other than eye. Many have received grievous injuries in vital organs.

In SMHS hospital alone, as per the data compiled by its department of General Surgery, a total of 6,149 trauma cases were received between July 9, 2016 and November 09, 2016. Most of these were injuries caused by pellets. 

Although claimed to be a "non-lethal" weapon, injuries caused by pellet guns have resulted in death of at least 16 people in the past one year.

Even though the government and union ministry of home affairs has announced and introduced many "measures" while claiming to reduce the lethality of pellet shotguns, this commonly-used weapon continues to inflict grievous injuries particularly in eyes.

This year only, from April 2017, more than 60 people have been hit in eyes by pellets. In the month that went by, two people, a 60-year old man and a 22 year-old youth lost both eyes to pellets. In the past one week, 14 people with pellet injury to eye(s) have been admitted to SMHS Hospital.

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