The doctors at Srinagar’s Shri Maharaja Hari Singh (SHMS) on Wednesday came out to protest against use of pellet guns in the valley. Several doctors, including senior faculty members of the Government Medical College Srinagar and its associated hospitals like SMHS, gathered at the college campus for a sit-in against the ‘indiscriminate use of pellet guns’ by armed forces. Posing as pellet victims with a bandaged eye, the doctors called for an immediate end to the use of pellet guns.
“We, as a part of this society, are equally pained by the situation. Kashmir has witnessed havoc caused by the use of pellet guns,” said Dr Sajad Majid Qazi, General Secretary of Medical Faculty Association (MFA) of GMC Srinagar and Dental College Srinagar.
In a first of its kind protest, the doctors tried to highlight the sufferings of patients who have lost vision or suffered eye injuries due to pellet guns. “Hear our silence, see our blindness,” read a placard carried by the doctors. “Stop killing innocent kids,” said another.
Since July 8, the doctors at the ophthalmology department of the SMHS hospital have treated 365 persons injured mostly by pellets and 302 of them have undergone preliminary surgeries. A total of 425 eye surgeries of victims injured during security crackdown have taken place in the hospital since July 9.
The head of the ophthalmology department Dr Tariq Qureshi said he was the first to speak up against the use of pellet guns because it was he and his team of doctors that witnessed and treated most of the patients at SMHS hospital. A senior faculty member at GMC Srinagar, Dr Muhammad Salim Khan, said the doctors had never before witnessed such a rush of patients, particularly people with pellet injuries in their eyes.
“It is a heart-rending situation. This injury not only affects these patients physically, but also leaves scars on their psyche. This will have long term ramifications in their lives,” Khan said.
Dr Raashid Maqbool, a consultant ophthalmologist, said that by putting bandages on their eyes they realised how helpless their patients must feel in real life.
“They (Centre) said in the Supreme Court that things are fine in the Valley, but it is entirely different here. We continue to receive patients in our ophthalmology wards and theatres…It is quite disastrous here,” he said.