Sixteen-year-old Hamid Nazir, an innocent bystander, was blinded after being hit by pellets fired by Indian security forces during a protest in Indian-occupied Kashmir.
According to his family, Hamid was walking to a tuition center to study for exams after school four days ago when he was caught in the middle of a protest to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the death of slain Kashmiri leader Mirwaiz Moulvi Farooq and Hurriyat leader Abdul Gani Lone.
The Indian police had began to fire indiscriminately near the higher secondary school in Palhalan, and Hamid was hit by a iron pellets fired from a "non-lethal gun."
More than a hundred of the small iron balls hit Hamid's head and face, especially around his eyes.
He underwent surgery in Srinagar, the capital of Indian-held Kashmir, but doctors are not sure if he will be able to see again.
“His right eye has impaired vision because of the pellets that have hit him and we think that he can no longer see with that eye,” Dr. Waseem Rashid, one of the doctors treating Hamid, told Anadolu Agency.
“We had operated on it on Saturday but because of the pellets, he has had a vitreous hemorrhage. So for now, he is blinded in one eye and we are hopeful about the other.”
He also said some of the iron balls may have damaged the brain.
His family says Hamid was shot deliberately and from a close range, as they anxiously wait for any news from the doctors.
In response to the outcry over Hamid’s injuries, Indian forces in Kashmir blamed Nazir. Despite all eyewitnesses saying he was just a bystander, police claim Hamid took part in the protest.
The use of pellet guns is a controversial issue in Indian-held Kashmir, where the security forces claim they are "non-lethal" but doctors and activists say they can cause severe injuries, and even kill. The use of pellet guns has become common following an outcry over more than 120 Kashmiris being shot dead in 2010 protests against the Indian occupation.
A pellet cartridge holds around 500 small iron balls.
Two Kashmiris, one of them an 11 year-old-boy, have previously been killed after being shot by pellet guns. More than 800 people, mostly aged between 14 to 30, have been hit in their eyes by pellets in last five years. Seventy per cent of those people lost their eyesight.
Human right activists have repeatedly said that Indian security forces are using disproportionate force on civilian protesters in the occupied, Muslim dominated region.
Parvez Imroz, a senior human right lawyer and the head of the Coalition of Civil Society, told Anadolu Agency that Indian forces often get away and hardly anyone has been punished for despite thousands of people suffering death or injury in occupied Kashmir.
Kashmir is held by India and Pakistan in parts, and two countries have fought over the region since the partition of India in 1947.
Since 1989 Kashmiri resistance groups in Indian-held Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence or unification with neighboring Pakistan.
More than 100,000 Kashmiri people have been killed under the occupation, while thousands of people have disappeared or have been jailed. Many gang rapes of Kashmiri women by Indian forces, torture and the deliberate burning of entire villages have also been reported.