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J&K: ‘Studying is only way forward. I always wanted to do MBA. But can I still?’

Kashmir erupted in protests after the July 8 killing of Burhan Wani. Since then, more than 10,000 people have received pellet injuries, as per hospital records, with more than 1,000 hit in the eye. Of them, at least seven have lost vision in both eyes

Written by Bashaarat Masood |
Updated: January 1, 2017 5:35:32 am
kashmir, kashmir unrest, kashmir news, kashmir protests, burhan wani, burhan wani protests, burhan wani aftermath, kashmir pellets, india news Funeral procession of Burhan Wani in Tral on July 9

TABISH Rafiq Bhat says he always hoped to do a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) some day. But the pellets that pierced his left eye shattered his retina — and his dreams. Now, he says, he can’t look at the printed word without his eyes watering.

“My future seems dark… just like my eye,” says the 17-year-old, who wrote his Class 10 examinations in November. Tabish says he asked for a writer during the exams, but the Board of School Education “turned down my request”. “My left eye hurt badly when I wrote my exams,” he says, lying under a blanket in his single-room house that is partitioned to make space for the kitchen.

The family is preparing for another surgery — the fourth — on Tabish’s left eye. “Doctors say there are two more pellets inside. They say they can only remove the pellets and that I won’t be able to see with my left eye.”

His father Rafiq Ahmad Bhat runs a small grocery store inside the Oil Depot at Pampore and his mother Shehzada is a homemaker. A student of Delhi Modern Public School in the south Kashmir town of Pampore, Tabish says he was on his way back from the tuition centre when he was hit by the pellets.

That was on July 9, a day after Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was killed in an encounter, and Kashmir erupted in protests.

“My friend Jibran and I walked straight into a group of stone-pelting protesters. Suddenly, the CRPF men started chasing the protesters and firing pellets. I felt as if my body was on fire. I later realised I had been hit by pellets all over, six in my left eye alone. My friend was luckier – only two pellets hit him,” he says.

kashmir, kashmir unrest, kashmir news, kashmir protests, burhan wani, burhan wani protests, burhan wani aftermath, kashmir pellets, india news Tabish has been in and out of hospitals

After the incident, Tabish spent a month and a half at the Shri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) Hospital in Srinagar. Even when doctors at the hospital told the family that the damage done to his eye was irreparable, the family didn’t lose hope. Tabish’s father took him to several hospitals in Amritsar, but little came of those visits.

“We are devastated,” says Tabish’s mother Shehzada, sifting through his medical prescriptions as well as newspaper clippings with reports on Tabish being hit by pellets.

As Tabish talks about his outing with friends to Srinagar — a day before he was hit by pellets — Shehzada wipes away tears. “It was on July 8… We were eight of us and we had travelled to Srinagar and visited the Botanical Garden. We had a lot of fun,” he says, breaking into a smile that reduces his left eye to a narrow slit.

For the last four months, Tabish says, he has been shuttling between hospitals and home. On November 14, when he went to the examination hall for his Class 10 exam, he met his friends for the first time since he was hit by pellets.

“I wasn’t sure if I should sit for my exams. I had barely studied. But I realised studying was the only way I could move forward,” he says, adding that he hopes to score well in his Class 10 exams.

Tabish says he is worried about his siblings — brothers Talib, 11, and Tabeen, 12, and two-year-old sister Saulihah. “Is there any guarantee, they are not going to be hit by pellets? Pellets are used for animal hunting, why did they use it against us?”

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