Irfan Tramboo

Hospital ward that is a living witness to pellet horror  

Hospital ward that is a living witness to pellet horror  
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Last six weeks saw hundreds being treated for eye injuries

Srinagar: The Ward number 8 at the Shri Maharana Hari Singh (SMHS) Hospital has been turned into a place that has been a standing witness to the pellet horror that has been haunting the young generation in Kashmir for several years now.  The place has been a witness to deaths, with darkness and hopelessness being the dominant effect.

The place has, and even now bears the cries of those who are in pain, or that of their family members, who don’t seem to be coming to terms with the loss that their beloved sons, husbands, or even fathers have suffered.

For last more than one month, the number of pellet victims that were brought in for specialised treatments has soured beyond hundred, with 20 such victims losing their vision in one eye.

Apart from being a witness to the daily horror, the place has formed some lifelong bonds as well. Several victims who were brought in as patient, moved out after forming bonds of friendship with other fellow patients.

Such patients had nothing in common, but what they shared was victimhood that was thrust upon them by the pellets. The pellet horror plunged these victims, mostly teenagers into darkness with only uncertainty in sight.

One such bond was formed between Bilal Ahmad and Tariq Ahmad, one a resident of north Kashmir and another one from south Kashmir. Both are struggling to gain their eye sight. Both injured in one of their eyes.

“These two young men share loss, grief, pain and even hope. Even they have their routine tea and snacks break together displaying the bond they share with each other,” said an attendant who is posted in the ward.

Those around them are often astounded to see how the duo has accepted their dark and blurry lives.

“At times they keep on laughing over jokes they share till midnight, they share almost everything, as if they are lost brothers, now united,” says Abdul Samad, accompanying his son on the bed adjacent to that of Bilal’s.

Abdul Samad says that whenever they are together they seem to have forgotten the misery that they went through.

“Even the sight of their family members does not help them much in lifting up their mood,” he said.

There is irony all over in the ward. There are blissful moments, whenever someone is discharged with a joy of having their injuries healed. There are also moments with mixed feelings-whenever someone is discharged from the hospital.

“These patients take lot of things with them. Their sorrow, joy and mixed experiences they have while getting treatment, but what they do not take along after being discharged is their lost eye sight,” said another attendant wishing not to be named.

Given the joy and laughter the ward 8 is witness to, it has also seen families that stand as if doomed forever—doomed to take care of their teenage sons for rest of their lives. Sons, who were meant to take care of their parent in their old age, were in turn left for to be taken care of by their parents.

Arif Nazir (19), a resident of Shopian was hit by pellets in his left eye, damaging it to the extent that, for him, his left eye is good for nothing.

Arif was injured when an encounter raged in Shopian area, where, later Saddam Padder was killed.

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