It is official now. Around 446 persons have been hit in the eyes by pellet injuries over the past 42 days of the unrest in Kashmir. This was revealed to the J&K High Court by the state government on Saturday. These figures are are from one hospital only.
Kashmir High Court Bar Association had filed a Public Interest Litigation seeking details about patients who are being treated for eye injuries in J&K hospitals as well as those patients getting treatment outside the state.
A division bench of Chief Justice N Paul Vasanthakumar and Justice Ali Muhammad Magray had directed the state government to file the status report about the number of patients with eye injuries, by August 20. It had also asked the government to furnish details about the patients who have been discharged from hospitals.
In response, Government has revealed a figure of 446 eye injury patients admitted to Srinagar’s Sri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital. The figure doesn’t include the numbers admitted to other hospitals of Kashmir or those who have gone to other parts of the country for treatment.
J&K Advocate General Jahangir Iqbal Ganaie told the court that a majority of the victims had suffered “ multiple structural damage” to their eye balls and would require two or more surgeries to recover varying degrees of sight. Advocate Ganaie also said that so far 358 patients had undergone “open globe injuries and primary repair of the injured eyes immediately”.
Earlier on July 6, just eight days into the unrest, state government, in response to another PIL, had estimated the number of persons who had received the pellet injuries in their body at 600 – around 125 of them hit in the eyes. Ever since the number has risen exponentially.
According to an eye doctor at SMHS, the person who gets hit in the eye by the pellets can rarely recover the normal sight. “Eye is a water ball. Once hit by the speeding pellets which are rotating steel balls, the eye can never be same,” the doctor said on the condition of anonymity as he wasn’t authorised to speak. “
Pellet guns were deployed as part of the crowd control gear towards the end of the 2010 unrest. On 14 August 2010, the pump action rifle was used for the first time at Seelo Sopore on a 3,000-strong mob. Six persons were injured, according to a PTI report.