International Human Rights Day Justice continues to elude Kashmir’s pellet victims

On the International Human Rights Day, justice continued to elude thousands of pellet victims of Kashmir.
The lives of Kashmir’s pellet victims have become complicated since the tragedy struck them.
Like scores of pellet victims in Kashmir, the story of young Owais Farooq, Shabeena and Irfan Ahmad from south Kashmir is no different.

They are struggling to come out of the trauma that changed their lives forever.
On August 24, 2016, Owais Farooq from Pulwama was hit with 250 pellets in the head and five pellets in the left eye. He was blinded in the left eye.
Despite three surgeries in his left eye, Farooq still has pellets left in his eye and head. Of the five pellets in his left eye, doctors have removed only two pellets and some pellets are still in his head too.
Adding to his miseries, he still struggles to even get a disability certificate from SMHS hospital.
He said the government still does not recognize him as disabled.
“Initially, the government was saying that my name in the hospital records was incorrect,” he said.
His father Farooq Ahmad Rather had to sell his one kanal land to save his lone son.
“My son underwent a surgery at SMHS hospital and another two in Hyderabad. I have spent around Rs 5 lakh for his surgeries. He is the apple of my eyes. I can do anything to see him heal completely,” he said.
Despite the pain in his left eye, Owais passed with distinction in 10th standard exams.
A brilliant student and cricket lover, Owais said, “I am very passionate about cricket. I love cricket. I had even planned to make my career in cricket but pellets shattered my dreams. I wish those who have done it to me, will face the same agony,” he said.
Owais had opted for medical stream as he was interested in science.
“I recently appeared in my 12th standard examination. Besides, writing papers in the exam, I had to consult doctors,” he said.
Like Owais, pellets fired by government forces in 2016 left Shabeena of Kulgam partially blind in left eye.
Shabeena, a 10th standard student was hit by three pellets in her left eye when protests broke out in her area.
Shabeena said she was in her lawn when pellets fired at protestors hit her and changed her life forever.
“I couldn’t appear in the 10th standard exams as I wasn’t able to read anything properly,” she said.
Shabeena said her friends who studied with her were doing well at studies and had joined a higher secondary school.
“It is difficult for me to come to the grips of the reality that I am partially blinded. I am unlucky that I could not study further. I tried to study many times but doctors advised me not to look at books,” she said.
Unlike Owais and Shabeena, Irfan Ahmad from Shopian, though hit by pellets in both eyes, was lucky to regain his eyesight to some extent.
The spectacles help this 22-year-old to see the world properly.
“I hated spectacles like anything but now I never go anywhere without glasses. It is only with the help of spectacles that I am able to see clearly,” he said.
A bread maker by profession, Irfan was hit by pellets inside his shop.
“I was baking breads when the government forces fired pellets which hit my both eyes. Since then I am in trauma,” he said.