Kashmir: 19-month-old baby becomes the youngest pellet gun survivor

At least six militants, one soldier and a civilian were killed and more than 50 persons injured during a gunfight and subsequent clashes between security forces and protesters in Shopian district

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Gulzar Bhat

Residents of Kapran village in South Kashmir's Shopian district, some 62 kms south of Srinagar, hardly slept a wink on Saturday night. The boom of blasts and raging gun fire in the nearby Batgund locality—where security forces were engaged in a fierce encounter with the militants—kept them awake all through the night.

Soon after the cracking of dawn, as the news about the gun fight broke, the local residents and the young men from the adjoining areas rushed to the spot of gun battle. They started pelting the forces with stones and bricks to hamper the operation. The forces, who had ring-fenced the entire Kapran-Batgund area, retaliated with pellets, smoke shells and even bullets.

As the acrid odour of the pepper and the toxic smoke of tear gas canisters entered the house of 32-year-old Marsala through the chinks of windows and doors, it became rather unbearable for her and her 19-month-old daughter Heeba Nisar to stay inside. The panicked mother immediately rushed out clasping the baby to her chest with tears streaming from the eyes and profuse coughing.

Nisar Ahmad, father of Heeba, said though the metallic balls have been removed from the eye but they were not sure if she would be able to see through the injured eye again

She had barely crossed the threshold of their newly constructed house when the armed forces struggling to contain the protesters allegedly fired pellet guns towards them, causing injury to the left eye of little Heeba.

“They directly fired towards us without even caring for the child,” said Marsala.

“As soon as pellet hit the child, her eye turned puffy and she began crying in excruciating pain,” she recalled, adding, “We immediately rushed her to district hospital Kulgam from where she was referred to SMHS, Srinagar, given the severity of her injuries.”

Nisar Ahmad, father of Heeba, said though the metallic balls have been removed from the eye but they were not sure if she would be able to see through the injured eye again.

Asked as to how the baby got injured in the security forces’ action, Additional Director General of Police, Law and Order, Muneer Khan told National Herald that “the protesters including the women were throwing stones on the forces and in the retaliatory action some of them were left injured.”

Pertinently, six militants, one soldier and a civilian were killed and more than 50 protesters were injured during the gunfight and subsequent clashes.

Heeba Nisar, meanwhile, has become the youngest victim of pellet fury in Kashmir, according to Mohmmad Ashraf, president Pellet Victim Welfare Association.

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