This is the story of Farzan Sheikh — a young Kashmiri who was blinded after Indian armed forces struck him with pellets. Twice.

He’s not alone. Thousands of young Kashmiris have suffered from pellet injuries at the hands of Indian armed forces since 2016.




Farzan was hit by pellets by India’s armed forces in March 2017. He was attending a funeral procession when it happened. He was 16 years old at the time. Six months later, he stepped outside his home to put out a street light. He was hit again. This time in both eyes.



He lost all vision in his right and has 25 percent vision remaining in his left eye. That’s not all he’s lost. A year later, he lost his grandfather. In July 2018, he lost his father. He’s now the primary breadwinner of the family. He’s taken over his father’s shop — a small convenient store on a street corner.



Indian armed forces routinely shoot pellet guns into crowds. Pellet guns fire out tiny metal balls. Thousands of people have been struck with pellets since 2016. At least 1,000 Kashmiris have been struck directly in the eyes — causing total or partial blindness. The chief of the ophthalmology department in Srinagar’s main hosptial described the impact of pellets on the eyes in a New York Times story as mutilated retinas, severed optic nerves, irisis seeping out of puddles of ink.



The Indian armed forces’ use of pellet guns to terrorize civilians has been called everything from an epidemic of dead eyes to the world’s first mass blinding. The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have all condemned Indian armed forces’ excessive use of force to respond protests. Still, there has been complete impunity for these actions.



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Stand With Kashmir (SWK) is a Kashmiri diaspora-driven independent, transnational, grassroots movement committed to standing in solidarity with the people of Indian occupied Kashmir in ending the Indian occupation of their homeland and supporting the right to self-determination of the pre-partition state of Jammu and Kashmir. We want to hear from you. If you have general inquiries, suggestions, or concerns, please email us at




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