Government forces fired pellets on 16-year old Srinagar boy Farzan Sheikh in March this year, injuring his left eye. On Monday, August 7, forces again fired pellets at him, this time injuring both his eyes. A class 10 student, who despite the vision impairment caused by pellets earlier this year, Farzan was preparing for his exam.
“Why did they not shoot me with a bullet this time? They had already snatched half my vision and life. What will I do now?” Farzan said at SMHS Hospital here. He could speak with difficulty, his front teeth shattered by pellets. He was unable to open his eyes, bruised and swollen, his entire face pocked by pellets.
For his family, the injury, the pain and the entire sequence of events seemed like déjà vu. “He has already been operated four times in the eye that was wounded in March and there is no improvement in vision. What hope can we have this time, now that he has so many pellets in both his eyes,” his mother Muzamil said.
The boy is the only son of Nazir Ahmed Shiekh, who runs a small shop in Nawab Bazar where they live. He said he had no hope from life after Farzan’s injury. “I am a heart patient, have a stent fitted. Now my only son is disabled,” he said. However, apart from hopelessness, the family is anguished over why Farzan was targeted by government forces when he was right in front of his house while no protests were going on in the area.
“It was a hot and humid night; many of us sit on our front door stairs to get some air in downtown Srinagar. Is that a crime now?” Naseema, aunt of Farzan said. She said when they heard shots being fired around 11 pm on Monday; they thought it was a marriage procession somewhere. “I came out in excitement to see the groom. But instead saw Farzan had fallen, his entire head ridden with pellets,” she said. “What protests could there be so late in night?” she asked.
In Ward 8 of SMHS Hospital, where Farzan is undergoing treatment, five more victims of pellet injuries fired in eyes by government forces are also admitted. One among them Shabir Ahmed Shah is 50 year old embroidery artisan from Bota Kadal Srinagar whose both eyes are still blood shot, a week after the injury.
“I had gone to pray at Jamia Masjid last Friday. While coming out, I don’t know from where I was shot in my eyes,” he said. Shah is the only earner for his family. “Will I be able to do embroidery now that both my eyes are gone? Who will earn for my family,” he asked.
In the past one year, pellets fired by government forces have injured over 1050 people in eyes, causing vision impairment and complete blindness in many cases. Over 8000 civilians have been injured in parts of body other than eyes by this deadly weapon used by government forces in a bid to control pro-freedom protests in Kashmir. Pellets have also caused death of at least 15 persons over this period.