SSB men hit in stone pelting lose vision but not spirit

New Delhi, April 14
Far away from their CRPF colleagues facing stone pelters in Kashmir, two SSB men are recuperating in Chennai from grievous eye injuries they received after protesters attacked them in a similar fashion during recent clashes along the Indo-Nepal border.
While jawan S Prabhakar has lost complete vision in his left eye, his senior and 31-year-old company commander T K Hans has been meted with a cruel fate to spend all his life with only 50 per cent vision in his right eye.
The duo were injured in a cross-border stone pelting incident on March 9 when a crowd from the other side gathered along the Basai border post of the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) in Lakhimpur Kheri district and clashes erupted over the construction of a culvert near the “missing” border pillar number 200 along the India-Nepal International Border.
The two SSB troops were rushed in a bleeding condition from the IB area to nearby hospitals after they were hit and have been under medical treatment since then.
The incident had erupted into a major diplomatic issue between the two countries with Nepal claiming that one of its citizen was killed in firing by SSB men during the incident.
The SSB headquarters here has recently submitted the findings of an internal inquiry report to the Union Home Ministry stating that no bullet was fired by the paramilitary during this incident.
“I was hit in the eye by a stone shot aimed from a gulel (catapult) while my jawan constable S Prabhakar was similarly hit by stones when we were out to control the situation on the border.
Our task was to ensure that the sanctity of the IB is not violated by the protesters.
“I remember there was heavy stone pelting on that day and a total of 13 jawans were injured during the entire incident,” Hans said from Chennai where he is recuperating from his eye injuries at the Shankar Netralaya for the last month.
The 2014-batch Assistant Commandant said he has been told by the doctors that he will never regain 50 per cent of his vision in his right eye, while constable Prabhakar has “permanently lost the vision of his left eye and it cannot be restored” after treatment at the same medical centre in Chennai.
Hans, who hails from Jharkhands capital Ranchi has a blood clot in his right eye and it will require him to visit the hospital for a few more months before he can resume normal duties.
A native of Srikakulam in Andhra Pradesh, Prabhakar has been sent on a month-long medical leave.
Prabhakar rues that his fate has been like that of his friends from the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) who face such stone pelters every day in the Kashmir valley.
Senior SSB officers said the two troops will be provided all service-related benefits and monetary compensations that they deserve after getting injured in the line of duty.
“I just wish to get back on duty as soon as possible. My single eye is capable to keep the countrys borders safe,” Hans said when asked if he will be able to discharge his duties as good as before.
The SSB, which works under the command of the Union Home Ministry, is tasked with guarding the 1,751 km Indo-Nepal border.
Uttar Pradesh shares a 599.3 km open border with Nepal touching seven districts – Pilibhit, Lakhimpur Kheri, Bahraich, Sravasti, Balrampur, Sidhharthnagar and Maharajganj.

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