He hardly steps out of his house. The 21-year-old Kashmiri, his eyesight almost gone, does not know what the future holds for him.
“Even after two operations, the visibility is just about 30 percent. Everything looks vague,” Riaz told Arab News.
He was on his way home after attending a wedding in August 2016 when he came across security forces.
He got nervous and fled, but policemen surrounded him after a brief chase. A barrage of pellets hit him, immobilizing him immediately.
“I lost consciousness and when I woke up, I found myself in a hospital with my whole body in acute pain and my visibility gone completely,” said Riaz.
“Doctors say some pellets still remain in my left eye, chest and leg.”
Sharooza, 16, from Rohmoo village in Pulwama district, lost an eye in a pellet attack last October.
She was studying next to the window of her room when security personnel started indiscriminately firing at a protesting crowd nearby. Some of the pellets hit her.
“I’ve undergone three operations since last October, but the eyesight couldn’t be retrieved,” Sharooza told Arab News.
“I feel helpless, and I don’t know what will happen to me now. My education is completely disrupted because of this.”
On Wednesday, Amnesty International urged the government to “prohibit pellet-firing shotguns immediately.”
In a report titled “Losing Sight in Kashmir: The Impact of Pellet-Firing Shotguns,” Amnesty highlighted “the mental, physical, psychological trauma” that pellet shotguns have inflicted.
The report profiles 88 victims of indiscriminate use of pellet guns last year, when Kashmir erupted in protests after the killing of young militant Burhan Wani and the subsequent heavy-handedness of security forces.
“We want the government to stop using pellet-firing shotguns completely,” Aakar Patel, executive director of Amnesty International, India, told Arab News.
He stressed the “need for compensation for the victims,” adding: “They should be properly rehabilitated and they should get justice.”
He said: “What I understand, after hearing the victims, is that their lives have been substantially disrupted mentally, physically and emotionally.”
Around 12,000 people in various parts of Kashmir have reportedly fallen victim to pellet-gun attacks.
Parvez Khurram, a prominent human rights activist based in Kashmir, told Arab News: “The Amnesty report should create awareness among the mainstream in India about the danger of such mindless use of pellet shotguns on Kashmiris. Nowhere in India is such a gun used to control protests.”
He added: “We want people in India to look at the issue sympathetically, and to understand the pain of the people of Kashmir.”
But Riaz said he does not think the attitude of the Indian government and media will change.
Khurram said: “Indiscriminate use of force by the Indian government has not only ruined the lives of individuals, but has pushed a complete generation toward anger. The dehumanization of Kashmiri youngsters has increased resentment among the masses.”
Sharooza said: “Tell me what my fault was. I used to love books. I wanted to study. Today my poor father is deep in debt due to my treatment. My whole world is shattered.”