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Kashmiri Eye Pellet Victim Waits for Justice in Darkness

A young man blinded by a pellet gunshot is still waiting for compensation from the Jammu and Kashmir government.

Owais Farooq, a class 11 student, was on his way back from a tuition class at his Uncle’s house when a pellet hit him in the eye. Since his life took this unwelcome turn in September, 2016, he finds it difficult to read, reports our Kashmir Community Correspondent, Rayees Ahmad.

Armed security forces have been using pellet guns in Kashmir Valley since 2010. However, there has been a dramatic rise in the number of injuries in the protests that followed the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander, Burhan Wani by security forces in July 2016. The reports of this increase in injuries have been widely criticised both in India and internationally.

When a pellet is fired, it disperses chaotically in large numbers. Since the eye is made up of sensitive tissues, it is extremely vulnerable to irreparable damage. While doctors say that some vision can be returned after injury, there is no known case of a victim shot in the eye regaining full vision.

Owais, 15, too was told, that he would regain some vision after a couple of months of treatment. But doctors eventually told him that he is completely blind in the left eye.

According to a report by Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, since 2016 there have been 1,178 eye injuries by pellet guns. Out of this 52 people have been completely blinded, and 300 remain partially blinded. Security forces use pellet guns to disperse protesting civilians. However, innocent bystanders like Owais trying to carry on with their lives in the midst of conflict are also caught in the crossfire.  

In December 2016, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti, announced that pellet victims would receive compensation in the form of government jobs and/or INR 5,00,000, which is a part of her “earlier measures taken for the rehabilitation of the victims of violence during the unrest of last year [2016]”, an official spokesperson said.

However, many like Owais are still waiting for compensation. He is yet to receive any form of support from the government. Video Volunteers’ J&K Coordinator, Sajad Rasool, filed an RTI to find out exactly how many people have received compensation. We found out that only 22 people are in the process of receiving compensation over a year on from the state announcement.

Video by Community Correspondent Rayees Ahmad

Article by Shreya Kalra, a member of the VV editorial team

 

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