14% of pellet gun victims in Kashmir are below 15

Young victims require complicated surgeries under anaesthesia, many for damage to their eyes.

Updated - December 04, 2021 10:59 pm IST

Published - August 22, 2016 12:49 am IST - Srinagar:

Junaid undergoing treatment in Srinagar on Sunday after being hit by pellets in the chest. Photo: Nissar Ahmad

Junaid undergoing treatment in Srinagar on Sunday after being hit by pellets in the chest. Photo: Nissar Ahmad

Eight-year-old Junaid Ahmad on Sunday became the latest victim of ‘targeted fire’ when he was shot at from close range by a >pellet gun, resulting in extensive injuries to his chest. He is the latest to figure in the grim statistics showing that 14 per cent of those injured by pellets since July 9 are below the age of 15 and face complicated surgeries.

Ahmad was standing in a lane outside his house at Nawabazaar’s Qalamdanpora area on Sunday evening when the security forces started withdrawing from the area after the day-long curfew.

“A police Rakshak vehicle stopped at the lane and chased people assembling in the area. Ahmad did not flee from the spot. Instead, he stood there. He was shouted at by a police man from the vehicle and then fired at without any consideration for his age,” said Ahmad’s relative at the Shri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) Hospital. Dozens of pellets hit Ahmad in the chest, with some penetrating through to his lungs. “There are multiple pellet injuries in the chest but he is showing signs of improvement,” said a doctor in the hospital.

“If he was a little closer to the barrel of the pellet shotgun, given his tender skin, pellets would have ruptured his lungs,” the doctor said.

933 and counting

The hospital that receives only critical patients from 10 districts and caters to the city patients, is overwhelmed with cases of pellet injuries since July 9, a day after >Hizb-ul-Mujahideen leader Burhan Wani was killed .

It received 933 pellet cases till the first week of August.

“We had 440 pellet patients who were hit in the eyes. Of these, 60 to 70 patients were under the age of 15,” consultant ophthalmologist at the SMHS Sajad Khanday told The Hindu .

Around 40 surgeries are slated for next week.

“There were around 250 patients who required second surgeries. Many among them are very young,” said Dr. Khanday.

He admitted that performing surgeries on children is more demanding.

“In adults injured by pellets, we administer local anaesthesia and perform surgeries. However, children have to undergo general anaesthesia, where functioning of all vitals must be regulated and observed minutely. Surgeries are more tedious than performed on adults,” said Dr. Khanday, who has operated upon patients as young as seven.

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