Nineteen-month-old Hiba Jan, who was hit with a pellet in her right eye, screamed continuously in her mother’s lap at the ophthalmology ward of general specialty SMHS hospital here Sunday, as her
parents and relatives struggled to calm her down. Hiba’s mother Masarat Jan held her little hands, decorated with henna, tightly, while tears rolled down her eyes incessantly after Hiba tried to grab the padding on her injured eye.
A doctor at the ward shuddered at the sight of the little girl, whom he described as the “youngest pellet victim”.
“She has a corneal perforation and its prognosis is not very good,” said the doctor, who had operated upon her at the trauma theatre.
He explained that a pellet has made a hole right in the middle of her eyeball, causing bleeding in the eye and damaging its parts that are vital for vision.
“We would operate on her again. Let us hope we are able to correct the devastation caused by the pellet in her eye,” he said.
Born in March 2017, Hiba had woken up earlier than usual on Sunday at her home in Kapran, a hamlet near Batgund village in Shopian where a gunfight had started between militants and forces. The gun-battle was followed by intense clashes between youth and forces.
Masarat said due to continuous teargas shelling, smoke started filling their house and Hiba refused to eat anything, coughing aggressively.
“I couldn’t tolerate my daughter choking and nauseating with tear-smoke and decided to take her and my five-year-old son away from the house, somewhere where they could breathe better,” recalled Masarat, as tears rolled down her eyes.
“As soon as I opened the door of my house, I saw a pellet gun aimed at us while youth were rushing away from the spot. I pushed my son to a side and shielded my daughter’s face with my hand,” Masarat said. “Three pellets hit my hand suddenly, but one hit my daughter in her eye”.
Marks of pellets were visible on Masarat’s hand.
Hiba was brought to the hospital by her neighbours when Masarat fell unconscious after seeing blood oozing from her daughter’s eye.
“I wish the pellet in her eye had hit me,” Masarat cried loudly, alongside her husband Nazir Ahmed, who was away for work when the tragedy befell the family.
“She is just a baby, my little baby,” the father cried, while his laments triggered emotional scenes at ward number 8.
In the ward, many other people hit in eyes with pellets were admitted Sunday, including a class 8 student, Faizan Ahmed.
Faizan, apart from pellets in eye, was also injured by a bullet in his head. However, a doctor said that the bullet has “just shaved past his head” and “didn’t cause a major injury”.
“He has been very lucky,” a surgeon, who was part of the team treating the injured in the trauma theatre, said.
Till this report was filed, 17 people with firearm injuries were brought to the SMHS hospital for specialised treatment. Of these, five had bullet injuries while the rest had wounds caused by pellets, according to the hospital administration.
Medical superintendent of SMHS hospital, DrSaleemTak said 11 persons had injuries to eye(s) by pellets.
“One of the injured, with a bullet injury to neck, was referred to Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS). His condition was stated to be stable,” he said.