On bed number 4 at Shri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) Hospital’s ophthalmology department in Srinagar, Hiba Nisar is crying continuously even as her parents try to distract her with chocolates and sweets that visitors are bringing for her. Barely 20 months old, Hiba was hit by a pellet on her right eye on Sunday inside her home in Shopian and underwent an immediate surgery. Doctors, however, say the injury is grave and fear she might lose sight in one eye.
Clashes broke out between civilians and security personnel in Shopian following an early morning encounter on Sunday. According to reports, a civilian was killed and over 50 people were injured in the protests that led to Hiba’s injury.
Marsala Jan, Hiba’s mother, told The Indian Express, that she was home with her two kids when the protests broke out. “We were inside our home and intense tear gas shelling was going on outside. At one point, my five-year-old son began complaining of trouble in breathing. I decided to take my children out but as soon as soon as I opened the door, three men (security personnel) fired pellets on us directly,” she said while holding Hiba in her arms at the hospital. The family lives in Kaprin – Batgund area of Shopian district- the same village where the Sunday encounter took place. Hiba was taken to a hospital in Shopian from where she was referred to Srinagar.
Jan says she, too, suffered a pellet injury on her hand when she was trying to save her children. “I put my hand on Hiba’s face to protect her.. had I not put my hand, her face would have been disfigured with pellets.”
The parents are also worried about their son who is back home. “Please check his face and his body parts. He too may have received a pellet,” the father Nisar Ahmad tells his relative over the phone in Shopian.
Nisar says his wife pushed his son to another side, which saved him from pellets. “They didn’t even leave this small kid…I am just praying to God that she has no serious problem in her eye,” he said.
“Her condition is not good. We are keeping our fingers crossed and see how she responds to the treatment,” a doctor at the Department of Ophthalmology, SMHS, told The Indian Express. He further said the “patient has perforation in cornea with pellet in the eye.”
A wailing Jan says: “What was her fault? She is too young to understand, what has happened to her…I only pray to God to give a severe punishment to those who are responsible for this, As a mother, I only can understand what she is going through.”