Though scarred and blinded by pellets, Kashmiri students shine in board exams
Two days after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani in an encounter on July 8 last year, Suhail Gul Mir, 18, found himself caught between protesters and security forces while returning home from tuition classes in south Kashmir.
His left eye was blinded after pellets pierced through it and a cycle of surgeries and check-ups started at Srinagar’s SMHS hospital.
Undeterred by the vision he lost in one eye and the excruciating pain, Suhail — a resident of Rohmoo village in strife-torn Pulwama district — appeared for his Class 12 final exams in November and fared well.
He scored 75% marks in the arts stream.
“Studying after four operations was not easy. Every time I tried focusing on the page, my eyes and head would start aching. But I kept going,” said an exuberant Suhail.
“My marks would have been higher had I not been injured,” he said, adding that he wants to be a teacher.
His brother Sajad Ahmed Mir said one pellet was still lodged in the posterior of Suhail’s eye. “We want to go to Amritsar for treatment but there is financial constraint. Our father is a tailor and we do not have the money.”
The results of the Class 12 examinations of the state education board held in Kashmir in November were declared on Sunday and 75% students passed the exams.
Hospital data shows that eyes of more than 1,000 people were pierced by pellets in last year’s unrest, leading to various degrees of blindness.
But Suhail is not the only pellet victim to achieve such a feat in the exams.
Tabish Rafiq Bhat, 16, a resident of Pampore town, was hit by pellets on July 9 last year.
According to his family, Tabish was not a part of stone-pelting mob but was caught in the chaos while passing through the area.
Six pellets perforated his left eye and doctors said he would not be able to see again.
Tabish took his Class 10 board exams and scored a cumulative average grade point (CAGP) of 7.
“I am happy. My family and friends are happy. I thank Allah that I was able to take the exams despite my injury,” Tabish said.
He has chosen the arts stream and will attend a government higher secondary school in Pampore.
For Tabish too, preparing for exams was not easy. His right eye would start watering after reading or writing for some time, accompanied by a headache.
“The pain is still there and no vision has returned to the damaged eye,” said Tabish.
Suhaib Nazir, 16, lost his right eye to pellets when forces fired the weapon to quell a protest demonstration near his home in Uzrampathri near Pulwama.
In his Class 10 exams, he scored a CAGP of 7.2.
“I could not study much. Even the doctors had asked me not to study much,” said Suhaib.
His brother, Suhail Parray, said after undergoing three surgeries, Suhaib had a fourth scheduled.
Read | Pellets: Lethal or not?
“But my brother said at that point that he would undergo the surgery after appearing for his exams. Such was his dedication and we are extremely happy for him,” Parray said.
“After the injury, we had to travel through the curfew to Srinagar every four days and then after a few weeks, every 20 days. Suhaib was writhing in pain. So studying was out of the question for him for a long time,” he said.
Despite his suffering, Suhaib will focus all his energy on becoming a doctor.
“The pain continues, obviously. But I want to become a doctor and so will take the science stream with biology. I have already joined medical entrance coaching in Srinagar,” he said.