Home Indian Muslim Kashmiri girl who wanted to see her sister’s marriage left partially blinded...

Kashmiri girl who wanted to see her sister’s marriage left partially blinded by pellets

By Raqib Hameed Naik, TwoCircles.net

Pulwama: For Mohammad Akram Mir, 55 a farmer, the marriage of his elder daughter married felt like a dream come true. The dates were set for November 2016 and the shopping had started months earlier. But more than Akram, it was his 16-year-old girl Azra Jan who could not control the joy of watching her elder sister get married. She had bought two dresses for the occasion and had planned to put henna on her hands.

But weeks before the planned marriage, a tragedy struck the Mir family. On October 31, as other family members went to a nearby town to buy clothes and jewellery for the bride, Azra waited at home in Rahmoo village. And, as we have shown in earlier stories (which can be read here and here), this was a day when the village youth were pelting stones at the security forces following the death of over 100 protesters in the previous months. Azra could hear the tear gas shells, pellet guns, stun grenades and pepper gas grenades being fired and lobbed in the main Rahmoo market.

By 3 pm that day, the intensity of tear gas shelling had increased manifold. Azra saw security forces barging into the neighbouring home, vandalising property and beating residents. Feeling threatened as she was alone in the house, she came out and tried to run towards the main road. It proved to be a costly mistake.

The moment she stepped out, pellets hit her chest and face as they were raining over her village that day.

“As I felt blood on my chest and face. I got scared and started crying loud and running towards people.They drove me straight to Pulwama hospital and later to SMHS. On the way to the hospital, I was vomiting heavily,” recollects Azra.

Back home, the celebratory atmosphere turned into mourning. Family members came rushing to SMHS hospital in Srinagar city.

“She was badly hit. Along with her, there were many other girls and boys from our village who were hit by pellets. Security forces had wreaked havoc on our village that day; as if they intended to blind our entire generation,” says Azra’s brother Khurshid Ahmed.

Azra went through numerous surgeries in the first week of her stay in the hospital. She had lost vision in her left eye as it had been hit by four lead pellets.

The marriage was delayed by a month and fixed for December 10. Azra was no longer interested in putting a new dress on her pellet-riddled body and henna on her hands.

“You don’t see your sister getting married every day. These moments come once in every life and for girls, these are moments to enjoy, where friends and relatives get together. But I couldn’t see any of this,” Azra said.

“Let alone seeing others, I couldn’t even see my sister in the bridal dress,” she adds.

The attack on Azra has impacted her deeply. She no longer socialises with people like earlier. Most of the times, she sits alone, depressed. She also forgets a lot of things, and her personality has seen a drastic change.

Before she was hit by pellets, she used to dedicate most of her time in reading the books and do household chores, but now she usually stays by herself in a room.

Doctors at the hospital have advised performing more than two surgeries in her left eyes.

“Doctors have said that 2-4 surgeries are required to say anything about restoring vision in her left eye and it will at least take six months,” says her father Akram Mir.

Azra couldn’t even appear in her class 10th examinations because she was hit by pellets two weeks before the exams.

“I felt very bad those days. All my classmates were sitting in the examination centre and I was recuperating on the hospital bed,” She says.

Like many of her friends, she also wanted to become a doctor, but now she is not sure either she will be able to make it or not.

These days Azra’s family is trying every possible method to let their younger daughter come back to normal. Every day, her friends visit her and try to make her laugh and remind her of the days spent together. But Azra says her mind remains preoccupied with the idea of not regaining vision in her left eye.

“I have a lot of dreams. I want to study. If I can’t see, then all my dreams will die,” she adds.