PELLET PLIGHT: Married for 3 months, Shopian youth may never see again

On a bed in Ophthalmology Ward of general specialty SMHS hospital here, Shahnawaz struggles to locate his black glasses as he moves his hands around anxiously.
PELLET PLIGHT: Married for 3 months, Shopian youth may never see again
GK Photo

On a bed in Ophthalmology Ward of general specialty SMHS hospital here, Shahnawaz struggles to locate his black glasses as he moves his hands around anxiously.

After the initial struggle, the 25-year-old youth asks for help. "Is anybody around? Help me locate my glasses," he murmurs as an attendant nearby puts the glasses on his eyes.

The youth heaves a deep sigh and leans back to take rest while holding his face in both hands.

Till past Friday, Shahnawaz, who is married for three months, was planning for his new life ahead. But today the dark future stares at him, like hundreds of Kashmiri youth who have become victims of lethal pellets during the ongoing protests in Kashmir after the July 8 killing of militant commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani.

 "His dreams have been shattered," says Shahnawaz's younger brother, Farooq Ahmad.

A senior doctor said Shahnawaz's both eyes have perforation. "There are no chances of him regaining his vision in left eye. We might be able to save 'some vision' in his right eye," says the doctor.

A chef by profession, Shahnawaz is aware about the extent of injuries he has suffered in both eyes.

"Allah raham karayga! We all have faith in Him," he speaks in a soft tone as he talks about his married life.

While his 22-year-old wife knows about the tragedy, Shahnawaz says he hasn't spoken to her for all these days.

"How can I explain this to her? She is just 22 years old," sighs Shahnawaz, who, according to his brother, also lead prayers at a mosque in his village.

To a question how he got injured, Shahnawaz recalls he was part of peaceful protest that was held in his village after Friday prayers when forces chased away the protesting youth.

"Then they fired pellets at us. Many of us received pellet injuries," he says.

In the past 24 days, the SMHS has admitted 260 persons with pellet injuries in one or both eyes. Of these, 150 have injuries to their retina—in one or both eyes.

"So far we have performed vitrectomies (retina surgeries) of more than 80 persons," says a doctor at Ophthalmology Department.

Shahnawaz, like scores of pellet victims, is anxiously waiting for his turn to get operated upon in the eyes.

"I am not able to see anything. It is all dark around," sighs Shahnawaz, as he pulls up a blanket over his head to take rest.  

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