A toddler Blinded by State
Five-year old Nasir was injured in left eye by forces during protests in Islamabad on July 23. So far, he has undergone six surgeries but there has been no improvement in his vision
|| ZAHOOR GULZAR
On a bed in the Shri Maharaja Hari Singh hospital’s eye ward here, five-year-old Nasir Ahmad lies restless. On November 16 Nasir underwent sixth surgery in his eyes that according to his family members was injured by security forces during anti-India protests in south Kashmir’s Islamabad district in August this year. But there are little chances of him regaining the vision in the injured left eye even after several surgeries. “He is not able to recognize anything from his injured eye. We have been all these months praying for some improvement in his vision but so far there have been no results,” said Nasir’s father Muhammad Altaf. According to the doctors Nasir had suffered severe tear in the cornea of his eye. Nasir is the second 5-year-old kid who has suffered at the hands of the security forces in the aftermath of the killing of rebel commander Burhan Wani. Zohra, a 5-year-old girl of Qamarwari in Srinagar, was shot at with pellets by Indian forces, resulting in injuries to her entire body. The injury has taken a heavy toll on the health and psyche of little Nasir. According to his family members he has now become very frightened and impatient after the injury. “He was a very jolly and active kid in our family, but now he is always lost in some thoughts and starts crying even at the slightest excuse,” sighed Altaf, adding his son has now stooped mixing with the kids in the locality. “He has grown conscious of his injury and anytime he falls, he gets angry and starts kicking everything around…sometimes he even yells at us and times shouts at his mother
On November 16 Nasir underwent sixth surgery in his injured left eyes. But there are little chances of him regaining the vision in the injured eye
How was Nasir Injured
Nasir was injured by government forces in Sherpora village of Islamabad district on July 23 when he was returning home with his father and grandmother from a hospital. Altaf said that on their way back home they came across protests taking place at Sherpora. Altaf sought shelter for his mother and while he looked for it he told his son to stay put in an alley. “I rushed my old mother to a relatively safer place and asked Nasir to sit in one place until I return. I feared he might be hurt while I was moving around with my mother in that chaos,” Altaf recalled. When he returned, he couldn’t believe his eyes. His son was lying on the ground and rubbing his eyes. He was sobbing in pain. “He was literally biting the dust due to the pain. His eyes were burning like charcoal. There was blood all over his eye,” said Altaf. Nasir was rushed to a nearby Islamabad hospital from where he was referred to SMHS. It was here that he revealed what had happened.
“At the hospital he told the doctor that a CRPF man had first inserted sand into his eye, and then injected a needle into the eye. After that he slapped him. There were slap marks on his face,” Altaf said. Following the injury fear has gripped little Nasir. Whenever he sees a crowd he shrieks and holds his father tight. Tears roll down on Altaf’s cheeks whenever Nasir cries. Sometimes he takes Nasir in his lap and strolls around the ward. Sometimes he puts blanket on his head. But Nasir remains inconsolable. Shrieks rent the air as doctors tend to administer medicine to Nasir after his sixth surgery. Even the attendants of other patients are unable to hold back their emotions when Nasir cries loudly. “How can we control our emotions? He is such a cute kid. I wonder how any human being could subject this small kid to such torture. I can’t bear it”, said an attendant of the neighboring patient. Doctors have however ruled out pallet injury to Nasir and say they were trying best to salvage his vision. “There is no pellet injury to his eye.
His eye is injured and he has got a tear in the cornea. We are waiting for the results “, said a doctor at the ophthalmology department in SMHS hospital. During the past four months of uprising post the killing of Burhan on July 8, the hospital received around 1200 persons, mostly young with pellet injuries to one or both eyes. Pellets are small metallic balls fired from pump shotgun with high velocity. Though during the uprising at least 96 civilians were killed and over 15000 persons injured in action by the security forces on protestors across Kashmir the year would be remembered for the high ratio of eye injuries caused due to the pellets. Of the total eye injury cases which were treated at the SMHS doctors said around 40 persons had pellet injuries in both eyes while the rests of the injured persons had severe injuries to cornea, retina or other vital components of the eyes. “Most of these patients have bad eye injuries and they may end up having only perception of the light. Even today after three to four surgeries the eye injury patients have been complaining that they can’t see beyond a few meters,” said a doctor who wished not to be named. Asked whether Nasir would be able to regain some vision, the doctor responded saying: “Only time will answer this question.
From our side we have been trying best to ensure that he (Nasir) gest some vision back in his injured eye.” Aware about the injury, Nasir has been repeatedly asking his parents that when will he be able to see with his injured eye. Though the family members try to avoid the question every time Nasir asks about his injured eye, they are concerned that someday the truth needs to be told to the little Nasir. “He is so young that he can’t understand what an impaired eye means. But when faces difficulties while walking or going out of home, he feels bad and starts raising questions. And that is when it hurts most,” said Altaf.