The use of pellet guns by the police and security forces in a tense Kashmir valley to quell protests has led to loss of vision in many people. Not only is the toll of deaths and injuries increasing in valley, but more and more patients with serious eye injuries are flocking the hospitals.
After coming under widespread criticism for firing at protestors, both J&K police and security forces personnel have now been using the pellet guns as a 'non-lethal weapon' to disperse the protesting crowd.
However, the use of pellet guns often leads to a permanent damage in the eyes and subsequent loss of vision. Despite various human rights bodies such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch flaying the use of pellet guns as a method of crowd control, its use has not stopped.
According to an Indian Express report, the ophthalmology ward at the Shri Maharja Hari Singh Hospital (SMHS), Srinagar has seen an unprecedented number of patient admissions with pellet eye injuries.
"We have already operated on 92 patients. Every hour, more young men arrive with pellet injuries to the eyes. We are overburdened," Sajjad Khanday, an ophthalmologist was quoted by the daily as saying.
Khanday said that although the pellet bullets don't kill people, they make the life of a person miserable by causing permanent eye damage to him/her.
"Not just his life, his entire family is destroyed. We have seen families take their children to places like Chennai in the hope that vision can be restored. It takes years for a family to accept the fate. There are very few cases where intervention helps after a pellet has pierced the eye," Khanday told IE.
Since many such injury cases are being reported in the remote areas, it usually takes a few days for the patients to travel to Srinagar where the surgery facilities are available. In most cases, doctors say there is a limited hope of retrieving the vision of these patients.
"I spent 15 minutes in the emergency ward SMHS. Saw four youth with bullet injuries being admitted," Ruwa Shah, a Kashmiri journalist said in a tweet.