On the second floor of Srinagar’s Shri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital, Naaza Shah sat in a corner outside the emergency operation theatre unsure of her son’s future. Basit, a Class X student from Shopian, wept quietly in another corner waiting to hear if his cousin will be able to see again.
On a day when two civilians were among those killed in three encounters, 34 patients were referred to the hospital from Shopian. Of the 34, 33 had pellet injuries, ‘mostly in the eye’, while one was brought with a bullet injury, medical superintendent Salim Tak told The Indian Express. Alam, 14, lay on a stretcher outside on the same floor awaiting his turn into the operation theatre and holding his bandaged left eye in his hand. His neighbour Faahid and a cousin had rushed him to the district hospital in Shopian after which he was referred to SMHS. He said Alam was “walking home from the shop and found himself next to the procession when he was attacked by a shower of pellets.”
Next to him, Adil stood with his eyes fixed towards the OT as his 16-year-old brother was stretchered in. “We left the darsgah together after we heard that tension was building up. When he reached the main road, my brother received pellets on the left side of his body. Both his left arm and left leg were riddled with pellets.” Adil had not called his parents yet and waited to hear the doctor’s opinion before he could beak the news.
Abdul Rashid Shah, his beard grey and a skull cap on his head, said his 15-year-old son was returning from tuition when he was hit by pellets. Shah, a mason, was working on a building when a co-worker called to tell him that his son had been injured. “He has been hit in his eyes. He is one of my two sons, how will I support him if he loses his eyesight?”
Score of attendants consoled one another, exchanged stories and passed water and fruits around. Most of the patients were in their late teens or early 20s.
Hospital staff relived episodes from the 2016 agitation, in which over 9,000 pellet victims were brought to the hospital. Ambulance sirens rang through the area and volunteers rushed to clear the roads as more patients were brought in. “They do not look at what they are doing, where they are firing. By aiming straight for their faces, they condemn them to a difficult life,” said a doctor at the hospital.
This story first published by (IE)