Will Kashmir see another year of ‘Dead Eyes’?

11 youth injured in eyes with pellets on Tuesday

In the past three days, over 20 persons mostly teenagers have been injured in pellet firing by security forces, 11 on Tuesday alone, across Kashmir bringing back the memories of 2016 unrest when hundreds of youth were hit in eyes by the deadly pellets.
For the past three days, hospitals in Srinagar have been receiving youth with their eyes perforated by pellets — injuries that cause vision impairment. Though for the past few months the cases of pellet injuries to eyes had gone down after the summer of 2016 that was referred to as ‘season of dead eyes’, the pellet injuries being reported in Srinagar hospitals for the past few days have again brought the focus on the deadly metallic pellets.
On Sunday, at least eight people were injured by pellets in Kulgam, two of them having serious eye injuries and currently being treated at SMHS Hospital. On Tuesday, 11 people with pellet injuries in eye(s) were admitted at different Srinagar hospitals. While 10 of these injured were provided preliminary treatment at SKIMS Medical College Hospital Bemina, one was operated upon at SMHS Hospital Srinagar, as per reports at the hospitals.
Ten of the injured hailed from Hajin, Bandipora and one from Saderkoot, Bandipora. Doctors said a few of the injured had grave injuries but said they were still in the process of evaluating the extent of damage to the eyes.
At SKIMS Hospital Bemina, doctors said, an injured Hilal Ahmed Dar (22) and Riyaz Ahmed Dar (20), both hailing from Hajin, had injuries to left eye and had been operated upon. “In one patient, the cornea is damaged and in the other one iris has prolapsed,” doctors said. They said that both patients had been given preliminary treatment and it would take time before the damage to vision could be ascertained well.
At SMHS Hospital, Adil Ahmed, an 18 year old from Hajin was also being operated upon when this report was filed. He had pellets in his left eye.
Doctors said some patients were being discharged after preliminary treatment but said that those with pellets inside the eyes would take ‘months of treatment’ and ‘many rounds of surgeries’. Eye surgeons have time and again underlined the lethality of pellets in view of the visual outcomes of the eyes injured by the ‘mini-bullets’.
However, in spite of uproar against the use of this weapon, their use continues.
In 2016, over 1150 youth, many of them teenagers and even minors, were injured in eyes by pellet shots. These injuries, as per doctors, have caused grievous trauma that had resulting in victims losing their vision. Many of the victims are females. At least 54 people have been hit in both eyes with pellets while more than 20 people have completely lost eye contents due to injury.
Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had recently directed forces to exercise “restraint” while using pellet guns. “If there is an attack on your camp or police station, then I understand, but if someone throws stones at you, you should try to restrain yourselves till we find an alternative to pellet guns and ban them completely,” she had said on December 14, 2016.