Sixteen-year-old Hamid Nazir underwent an eye operation on Saturday and will have to face another surgery soon. Several pellets, fired from a pellet gun by the police, are still stuck in his eyes. His family claims that Hamid, an innocent passer-by, was hit by pellets while the police were trying to disperse a protest in Palhallan in North Kashmir’s Pattan.
Hamid, a student of Class X, was on his way to his tuition centre on Thursday when he got caught in the middle of a demonstration by a group of protesters, says his family. That day, the valley was observing a shutdown to mark the death anniversary of Mirwaiz Mohammed Farooq and Hurriyat leader Abdul Gani Lone.
“He (Hamid) had gone to check whether the tuition centre is open. The police deployed near the centre fired pellets on the protesters and Hamid, who was passing by, received severe injuries,” says his father Nazir Ahmad, who works as a carpet weaver.
Hamid’s family members allege that he was shot from a close range. “The distance between Hamid and the policeman who fired the pellets was just a few feet. It has caused huge damage,” says his uncle Yusuf-ul-Umer.
“The vision of his right eye is most likely gone. There are pellets stuck inside his eye. He has undergone a primary operation on Saturday and another operation will be carried out later,” says Dr. Ajaz Ahmad, Medical Superintendent of Sheri-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences in Bemina.
Police officials, however, have a different version of the event. “The boy was part of the crowd which pelted stones at the security personnel on Thursday evening,” says a police official.
But doctors treating Hamid point out that he was hit in the head by more than a 100 pellets.
“He has vitreous hemorrhage in his right eye. As of now, he cannot see with his right eye, it is damaged. He has blurry vision in his left eye,” says Dr Waseem Rashid, one of the doctors treating Hamid.
Pellet guns are non-lethal weapons used by security forces to break up protests and disperse protesters. While the government maintains that it doesn’t cause much damage, doctors claim that 70 per cent of people who are hit in the eye with pellets lose their eyesight.
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