19-Month-Old, Kashmir’s Youngest Pellet Survivor, Needs Several Surgeries

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Heeba was playing at home when clashes broke out between protesters and security forces.

Srinagar:

Nineteen-month-old Heeba Nisar is facing an uncertain future. The child was hit by pellets about a week ago making her Kashmir's youngest pellet victim. She may need multiple surgeries. The doctors are unsure if they can restore her eyesight completely.

Heeba was playing inside her home in the south Kashmir's Shopian when clashes broke out between protesters and security forces following an encounter in which six terrorists were killed. She suffered a serious injury in one eye after being hit by pellets fired by security forces. She choked on smoke from tear gas shells that entered her home. And when her mother tried to take her out, shotgun pellets hit both of them.

"Our home was filled with smoke after they fired tear gas shells. The baby could not breathe. I tried to take her out but as soon as I opened the door, they fired pellets. I tried to save her by putting my hand on her face, but pellets hit her eye," said Masala Jan.

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More than 7,000 people have been hit by pellets since 2016 unrest in Kashmir. Over 1,500 have suffered eye injuries. Many of them have been partially or permanently blinded.

Police say they have ordered a probe into the incident. The government has announced a compensation of Rs 1 lakh for the family.

"The baby was accidentally hit by pellets. She is undergoing treatment in Srinagar and may require multiple surgeries. The financial condition of the family isn't too good, so we have decided to give them Rs 1 lakh," said Owais Ahmad, District Magistrate, Shopian.

The doctor said the treatment is a long process and Heeba's parents will have to take lot of precautions to ensure that she does not get any complications.

"Like most cases, the kid will be able to see but there is no guarantee that her eyesight will be restored completely," the doctor, who treated Heeba said.

Pellet guns are used by security forces to manage crowds during law and order situations.

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