Thousands of Kashmiri youth face life of disability

Srinagar, December 04, 2016 (PPI-OT): In occupied Kashmir, World Disability Day is observed every year on December 3 with the aim to improve the understanding of people towards the people with disability issues, but this time the day assumed a special meaning in Kashmir with over 15,000 youth injured in the last nearly five months of uprising.

According to Kashmir Media Service, with pellet lodged in his right arm, Zakir (name changed) of Kulgam had come to the hospital for follow-up treatment. Living with compromised vision for past three months, his visit to the hospital coincided with World Disability Day. “I remember we used to raise funds for physically challenged people. Now I too will be counted among them,” said Zakir.

For last three months, Zakir has been living a life of darkness. “I am bed ridden. Every morning I wake up with the hope that today the darkness will go and I will be able to see the colours around me, but disappointment is all that I get. And now I know I have to live with this darkness all my life,” he said.

“There is a man in my village, he had been shot in the eye long back in 1990’s and then his eye was removed and all villagers would look at him with pity and now the same will happen to me. I never thought I have to live a life of disability one day – never.”

Hundreds of youth have been blinded in one or both eyes by lethal pellets. In one of its reports, New York Times had dubbed 2016 as “the year of dead eyes”.

In SMHS hospital’s ward 8, which has become synonymous with the word blindness, patients have no idea what World Disability Day is all about. Two new patients from Sopore, who had been injured by forces just a day before said, “We never thought we will be disabled.”

One of the injured, Azhar said: “A day before getting injured we were living a normal life – a life where I can see with both our eyes, work with both hands and walk with both legs. But today I am not able to see things slip from hand because of the partial eyesight, my feet stagger when I walk. I had not thought even in my wildest of dreams that this will happen to me.”

“Someone in the ward told me that today is World Disability Day and I became silent, for I knew he was referring to me.” Hospital figures reveal that in the 148 days of uprising, on average each day a youth was either blinded or maimed.

For more information, contact:
Kashmir Media Service
Phone: 92-51-4435548, 4435549
Fax: 92-51-4861736