‘Church Seeks To Set Up Eye Bank In Kashmir’

Srinagar: Catholic Church officials in Jammu and Kashmir have sought government permission to start an eye bank to help casualties of recent violence in the Muslim-majority state, where organ donation is eschewed.

Jammu-Srinagar Diocese, which covers the entire state, has submitted a proposal to the state’s Directorate of Health Services. “We are hopeful to have the necessary permissions to start soon,” ucanews.com quoted Father Shaiju Chacko, director of diocesan social services as having said.

It is “a priority for the church as hundreds of people are suffering,” the priest said. Although Catholics are a minority in the state, the church exists to serve people regardless of “caste, creed and religion,” he said.

Around 15,000 people were injured and at least 93 civilians were killed in forces actions during pro-freedom protests. The mass uprising was triggered by the death of popular militant commander Burhan Wani on July 8.

An estimated 800 people suffered eye injuries as government forces made extensive use of pellet guns, considered to be non-lethal. When fired, the lead pellets disperse widely and penetrate skin and soft tissue. Eyes are especially vulnerable to severe and sometimes irreversible damage.

Pellets were introduced in Kashmir as a “non-lethal” alternative to bullets after men in uniform killed nearly 120 civilians in 2010.The state government’s reasoning was that when fired from a distance, pellets inflict only minor injuries.

However, local media reports quoting doctors say some 250 people have lost their eye sight.

As eye donation could help restore sight to victims of pellet injuries, doctors and members of Kashmir’s civil society have started to call for the establishment of an eye bank in Kashmir.

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