Kashmir students are back to schools. However the horror continues for them with their near and dear ones still languishing in jails or battling for lives in city hospitals. These are an estimated 1100 of the people hit by the pellet gun fire in Valley, a significant number of them youth, whose vision has been impaired, for many of them irreparably. Government figures say only six people have completely lost their sight which entitles them to the government job. But this is not the complete reality. Truth is that the pellet guns have wrought havoc. Doctors at SMHS says that around 150 have “only a perception of light”. Pellets have also caused the death of 14 people and injured an estimated 7136 people in various parts of body. Records with SMHS and the SKIMS Medical College, Valley’s main hospitals, reveal that 1130 patients with eye injuries due to pellets were admitted for the treatment. Among them is Insha, the 14 year old girl, who lost her both eyes to pellets. Her plight has since become emblematic of the current turmoil in Valley. The picture taken of her disfigured and pellet-riddled face while lying on a hospital bed has become a reference point for the horror wrought by the indiscriminate use of the pump action guns, popularly known as pellet guns in Valley. Forced by public outrage, Insha was sent by state government to AIIMS for treatment and later to Mumbai. But after conducting several rounds of surgeries, doctors declared her completely blind. Now the veteran separatist leader Shabir Shah has adopted Insha and he once again rushed her to Mumbai for further treatment. However, while Insha because of the media attention has been looked after by the government and the separatists – albeit with no real redeeming difference to her plight – the rest have been forgotten. Their parents have been left to bear the heavy expenses of their treatment alone. For obvious reasons, the State Government has tried to play down their tragedy. And except for a exploitation of their collective plight for politics, separatists have done so far little to extend a helping hand to them. This was the case too with the youth blinded in 2010 unrest. Forty five people, according to a study by the SMHS in the same year, lost their vision in one or both the eyes. But nobody now knows who they were. Amir Kabir of Baramulla was one of the first to be blinded by pellet guns. The pellets pierced through his retina, and he lost vision in both eyes. Successive surgeries failed to recover his sight. Scores of others similarly injured have now been reduced to a statistic in the description of the 2016 unrest in Valley. The plight of hundreds of others who are less grievously injured but with little chance of regaining their full sight hasn’t similarly been a concern beyond its political use in advancing various ideological and political agendas.
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