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 Recently I came back to my home from Jammu. On reaching Banihall I went directly towards the railway station amid cold, and drizzle. I was trembling due to biting cold. Finally jumped inside the train after waiting for 30 minutes, I luckily found a seat next to the innocent and cute 11 years old boy wearing spectacles.

umarIt was the last train leaving from Banihall. By  5:35 pm we left the Banihall station. Then the gorgeous boy next to me started  asking unusual questions. He showed his inquisitiveness. He mostly asked “why” type questions to me. I, with a smiling gesture, replied his queries to his maximum satisfaction. I found him totally different from others. So after getting satisfactory answers he put his headphone on and started to listen to his music collection.

After that another person sitting next to this boy started looking at me in a helpless manner. I asked him, “Is everything ok?” He said, “ya it is ok”, and introduced himself as the father of this sharp witty boy to whom I had a cherished dialogue. I found some psychological cum physical venerability over both of them. But I didn’t enquire much about it. But in order to generate some healthy interaction I tried to enquire about their residence and asked him, “what is the name of this boy, and in which class he is reading?” He amicably replied and got frank to give vent to his grievances in front of me.

He remarked, “this is Umar {boys name}, he is studying in 6th class, but the Natures will was  to make him literate only upto this stage, Allah forbid, he may not be able to read and write again.” I was dumbfounded and exclaimed, “Why? What is the problem? He said, Umar was hit by pellets in both his eyes which are partly damaged and are at the verge of losing permanently.   His father revealed that he would sell everything to get back eyesight of his son. Coming from a destitute family Umar’s father doesn’t have adequate resources for his treatment, but he said he would borrow money from others for treatment. I got moved after listening to his heart rending story. Living in an abject poverty, his family is bearing the brunt of costly treatment which is undergoing at Hyderabad for the last few months. They had been at Alvai Prasad Hospital, Hyderabad, for four times which nearly cost them four Lakh rupees.

I got numb with this poignant interaction which evoked an emotional sensation in me instantly. I showed my sympathies to the sufferer what could have I done more? Still being economically dependent my heart wept out for not contributing anything for this noble cause, though they didn’t ask for it, but my conscience asked me to do that. While departing from the train Umar turned towards me and remarked that he was not throwing stones at anybody, but he was playing with his friends in a playground very next to thier home. Suddenly some security personnel targeted them in haste and his eyes and  abdomen got hit by pellets. “I wish I could read and write once again,” Umar said. I wished him sound health and better future.

This is not the story of a single Umar; same is the story of an estimated 1100 people who were hit by the pellets and bullets during 2016’s heartless summer. A significant number of them are youth whose vision has been impaired, for many of them irreparably. Govt figures say only six people have completely lost their sight which entitles them to govt job. But this is not the complete reality. Truth is that the pellet guns have wrought havoc. Sources say that around 150 have only a perception of light. Pellets have also caused the death of 14 people and injured an estimated 7136 people in various parts of the body. Nearly 15-16 percent of pellet gun victims in Kashmir are below the age of 15 like Umar. Umar became the victim of targeted fire when he was playing cricket, and was shot from a close range by a pellet gun resulting in extensive injuries to his both eyes and abdomen.   He was playing cricket outside his house in Nikas, Pulwama when security forces  targeted them. He was shouted at by security personnel from a vehicle and then fired at without any consideration for his age.

Since 2010, many youths were killed and injured seriously by this weapon which govt forces use in Kashmir, which they claim is a non-lethal.

This gun during the ongoing uprising has come under sharp criticism, with international rights bodies and members of parliament from opposition parties demanding  a blanket ban on its use in Kashmir, but what is the fun after creating a huge damage, using pellet either kills or snatches ones vision.

Mohammad Shoaib, Research Scholar, Deptt of History, Kashmir University, originally from Uttersoo, Anantnag.  EMAIL: shaibm60@gmail.com

  • K SHESHU BABU

    This shows the ‘ fake Propaganda’ if the rulers in projecting pellets guns as non-lethal weapons. The pellets guns have destroyed number of lives and damaged the vision of more than hundred people, mostly kids. This harrowing take makes one to think fof the traumatic condition of the youth whose desires of future career have been hit by brutal security forces pallets …

  • Aijaz Datroo

    The oppresser has always used draconian laws and lethal means to curb the sentiment of freedom of the oppressed.However history is testimony to the fact that every conscious nation have achieved its cherished dream through sacrifices and resistance against the oppressive rule.