SRINAGAR: On November 23, 18-month old Hiba Nissar’s eye was ruptured by a pellet fired by security forces. She was inside her home in Kapran in Kashmir’s Shopian district. Hiba is the youngest victim of controversial pump action gun, which has damaged the eyes of thousands of protestors in Kashmir since 2016.
The child was in her mother’s arms when a cloud of tear gas, meant to disperse protestors on the street, filled up their home, making unbearable for them to stay indoors. Her mother, Marsala, 32, tried to take her child out but had barely opened the door when a soldier fired pellets towards them, causing injury to the right eye of Hiba. The pellet had perforated her eye and gone deep inside, to parts critical for vision.
Since 2010, security forces in Kashmir have used pellets fired from shotguns to quell protestors. Touted as being non-lethal, their use has blinded hundreds and killed at least 14 since July 2016. The maximum cases of pellet victims were witnessed in the same year, the period known as the ‘dead eye epidemic’ in Kashmir.
Like several other pellet victims, Hiba has a slim chance of regaining her eyesight despite repeated surgeries. The darkness around her will ultimately impact her psyche and plunge her into trauma, like other pellet victims.
Her family has only one question for the security forces: “What was her fault?”