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Church Initiates Eye Bank Efforts to Rescue Pellet Victims in Kashmir

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By Raqib Hameed Naik

Srinagar: In a significant move aimed at helping hundreds of youth who have been blinded by use of pellet guns in Kashmir, the Catholic Church officials in Jammu and Kashmir have asked for state government permission to establish an eye bank in the state. The Jammu-Kashmir Diocese has already submitted a detailed proposal for establishing an eye bank, to the Directorate of Health Services. According to Father Shaiju Chacko, who is the director of Diocesan social services, the decision was taken in the backdrop of the use of pellet guns in Kashmir which led to injuries to hundreds of protesters.
“Over and over again, the stories of people losing their eyes and then the initiative of treating pellet victims for free by Dr Natarajan inspired and motivated us to help, with the resources we have,” Father Shaiju Chacko said. “Then we realised that there were also legal hurdles as organ donation is eschewed in the state. We have asked for the government’s permission to establish the eye bank,” he added. Dr Sundaram Natarajan, a renowned retinal surgeon who is also a Padma Shri awardee, had twice visited the Department of Ophthalmology, Shri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) Hospital over the last three months to conduct eye surgeries on dozens of pellet victims for free.
Father Chacko said that they already have a hospital in Jammu where they will establish the eye bank. “We also have an associate hospital in Baramullah. So once the necessary permission is given by the government, then we can work on it. Besides we have consulted eye banks outside the state that are ready to provide the necessary help.”
(Extracted from