Aspiring to be an engineer, Aaqib Bashir Bhat, 16, of Bhat Mohalla Palhallan wants to study hard but can’t do it for more than 20 minutes. Reason? His left eye starts to twinge with pain since he went through a third surgery.
On 7th of March, 2013, Aqib along with his friend Tajamul Ahmad Bhat had gone to the local market to buy chicken. There were scattered protests going on in the area. And all of a sudden policemen started firing pellets at the people. Both Aqib and Tajamul got injured. “I was hit in the left eye while my friend Tajamul was hit in his back and abdomen,” says Aqib.
Despite spending around Rs 4 lakh for his treatment, Aqib has not gained his eyesight as doctors and his family had expected.
Initially he was treated at SKIMS, then in Amritsar and finally in Delhi. But the treatment failures and disappointments didn’t stop Aqib from hoping to see again.
For 18-year-old Basit Ahmad Malla, who hails from Rawpora in Palhallan town, the events of the day when he was shot by policemen from a 4 feet distance with pellets, refuses to fade from him memory. “I was on my way to mosque to offer midday prayers when policeman hiding behind the bricks came out and attacked me. They first beat me and then shot in my face with pellet gun,” says Malla.
The pellets damaged his left eye and left portion of the skull. “There are still three pellets inside his eye and treatment is underway,” his father Mohammad Akbar Malla says.
“I am without any dream as my future is at stake. Police has registered an FIR against me claiming that I am a stone pelter,” says Mallah.
Nineteen-year-old Aamir Ahmad Hajam, who works at a vegetable shop as a salesman, struggles to adapt to his shinning artificial right eye. Aamir hails from Syed Kareem area of Baramullah. “You can’t imagine the trauma I have to go through. I can’t see anything on my right side. I couldn’t continue my studies,” says Aamir. “I was on my way to tuitions when police fired pellets at me.”
Aamir was treated for his injuries first at SKIMS and then at Amritsar, but that too could not save his eye. I have already spent Rs 2 lakh on my treatment,” says Aamir who whose lips were also injured by pellets that day.
“Tell me which civilized nation uses pellet guns on humans? It is for hunting animals. But they (Indian government) treats Kashmiris worse than animals,” asks Aamir.