PULWAMA: Riyaz Ahmad has a decent house in Kareemabad village of district Pulwama in Indian-administered Kashmir. His fruit business continues to reap profits. His young sons, Asif and Adil, were a helping-hand in the business for years, but could not support him well since metal pellets damaged their eyes on September 11 this year.

Asif and Adil

There are over ten pellet victims in the village, who were injured simultaneously when, on September 11, Indian forces fired pellets from pump-action guns towards hundreds of the protesting villagers. The armed forces had cordoned off the village early morning in search of armed rebels. Instead, according to the villagers, forced entered into residential houses and ransacked the property. Protesting villagers clashed with the forces who responded with firing pellets and bullets on them, the locals say.

School student Asif and college student Adil are not the only pellet victims. There are over ten of them in the village, all-battling to regain vision.

Asif cannot write for now, so he did not attempt his class 12 board examination to stay away from the ‘hassle’ of appointing a helper. However, another class 12 student, Umar Ahmad, attempted the exam. He tries to sail through the pain to continue studies and support his poor family.

Umar Ahmad

Adjacent to Ahmad’s house is the house of Abbass Ahmad Pandit, 26. He is a shopkeeper but not the only earning-hand in the family. His father does the fruit business but incurred huge losses this year due to the four-month-long unrest in Kashmir. The trade season is over but Pandit could hope for an earning from his shop, until pellets left his right eye blind. He has an operation scheduled in Srinagar but the doctors hope for a partial recovery only.

Abbas Ahmad Pandit

At around a 300-meter distance is Manzoor Ahmad Bhat’s one-storeyed house where he stays with his wife and two children. Bhat, 30, is the only earning-hand in the family and has not been able to labour at a local shawl factory since the pellets partially damaged his right eye. The pellets hit him on face at the same time when a bullet hit him in the hip.

Manzoor Ahmad, his wife and two children

Faisal Ahmad is a labourer’s son. He often weeps as he asks his fellow classmates how they performed in class 10 board exams. Pellets damaged both of his eyes and he has almost no vision in the right eye. Doctors hope for one-third recovery after a scheduled surgery.

Faisal Ahmad

A farmer’s son Junaid Ahmad Mir also has a scheduled surgery and doctors hope for one-tenth recovery in his damaged left eye. He studies in class 11 and cannot stare at books at present as it pains and brings tears. His six-year-old cousins helps him with routine chorus these days.

Junaid Ahmad Mir