In a ward full of patients being treated for cataract and glaucoma — most of their eyes wrapped in bandages — a 20-month-old child on a corner bed is the cynosure of all attention.
Hiba Nisar, the youngest pellet victim of the current phase of violence in the Valley, lies anaesthetised in her mother’s lap after undergoing a surgery at Srinagar’s Shri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital Wednesday. Lying nearby, a medical prescription issued by the hospital describes her as “pellet victim number 1411”.
A single pellet had lodged in the posterior chamber of Hiba’s right eye when she was hit inside her house during clashes between protesters and security forces in Shopian district on November 25. The clashes had broke following an encounter during which six militants were killed by the security forces.
Hurriyat Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who visited Hiba at the hospital, tweeted: “Heart wrenching to see baby Hiba under the influence of anaesthesia as she undergoes a second eye surgery while her parents cry! Such extreme cruelty! Ask Govt of India to Stop the tyranny of the #PelletGun on Kashmiris!”
Attendants with other patients also pour into the ward number 7 to see Hiba and console her parents. While Nisar, Hiba’s father, is not letting hope fade away, the child’s distraught mother, Marsala, asks each visitor about their “misfortune”. “How many pellets? How many surgeries?… Do they tell you if it hurts?”
“She (Hiba) is still fighting, but that bandage makes her very uncomfortable. She remains calm only as long as she is sedated,” Nisar says, as he nervously waits for Thursday, when the doctors, after an eye examination, will be able say if the child will be able to see again.
This is the second surgery that Hiba has undergone. Atfer being hit, the child was first taken to the Kulgam District Hospital, from where she was referred to Srinagar.
In the first surgery, her corneal wound was repaired, leaving her eye opaque. According to doctors with the perforation of the eye, even by a single pellet, “chances of recovery remain bleak”.