Srinagar, February 26: Nineteen-year-old Basit Ashraf Mir worked as a bus conductor until some months ago, when he was blinded in his right eye by pellets fired by Indian troops near his home in Arampora in Sopore.
Basit Ashraf Mir had gone out to buy medicines for his ill sister. There are still many pellets lodged inside his body, which give him severe pain, but as he is the only earning member in his family, he has started selling vegetables on a cart. He wakes up early in the morning, goes to the vegetable market, and after buying the vegetables, takes out his cart. When it is evening, his younger brother, who studies in Class 10, comes to him and helps him return home. It is difficult for Basit to walk alone when it is dusk.
“On Friday, August 5, my sister was ill and she required medicine. There had been stone-pelting outside after Zuhr prayers, but I waited until it was over before I stepped out of home. When I reached Rahim Sahib road, the troops present there fired at me with a pellet gun. I felt something hot hitting my whole body. I fell on the ground. There was blood oozing out from my eyes and body. I couldn’t understand what had happened. Some local boys came and picked me up. They put me on a motor bike to take me to hospital but the forces did not allow us to take the main route. We took another road to reach the Sopore Sub District Hospital. I had lost much blood by then. All my clothes were soaked in blood. The boys who took me to the hospital later told me that the place where I fell had turned red with my blood. After giving me first aid, doctors at the Sopore hospital immediately referred me to Srinagar hospital,” Basit recounted the incident in a media interview.
“At Srinagar hospital, I was not operated on the same day but was kept under observation for the entire night. The next day when I was operated, I recovered a little vision in my left eye but my right eye remained blind. I was again operated on after two days, , with no positive outcome. We were discharged after my second surgery. I was on bed rest for three months at home, only visiting Srinagar once a week for check-up.
After three months I was again operated at Srinagar, but my right eye could not recover any vision,” Basit said. “There are hundreds of pellets still stuck in my arm, head, eye, hands, neck and fingers. The pellets in my right eye and fingers give me immense pain. I get fever and my whole body starts shivering.”
Basit had left his studies when he was in Class 9. He needed to support his family after his father met with an accident in the wood factory where he worked. Basit began working as a bus conductor on the Sopore- Baramulla route, earning Rs 3,000 per month. Now, with his one eye blinded, he has started selling vegetables on a cart.