An infant, believed to be 19 months old, was among several people injured by pellets in clashes between the security personnel and locals in Jammu and Kashmir’s Shopian and Kulgam districts on Sunday, reports said on Monday. Doctors at the Shri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital in Srinagar said Hiba Nisar, who was hit in the eye, may lose sight in one eye.

The clashes broke out following an encounter at Hipura Batagund in Kulgam district, where, the Army said, six militants, a soldier and a civilian were killed in the gunfire exchange.

The girl’s mother said she was forced to step out with her daughter and son after a tear gas shell exploded near her home in Shopian and made it difficult for her children to breathe. “As soon as I opened the door, three men [security personnel] fired pellets at us,” Marsala Nisar, the girl’s mother, told The Indian Express. “I put my hand on Hiba’s face to protect her. Had I not put my hand, her face would have been disfigured with pellets.”

Dr Saleem Tak, medical superintendent at Shri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital, told Greater Kashmir that they treated 17 people who had sustained injuries from either pellets or bullets fired by the government forces during the clashes.

Another report in the Hindustan Times, quoting medical superintendents of the two district hospitals, said 15 people were treated for injuries in Kulgam and 36 in Shopian.

The use of pump action guns, or pellet guns, by government forces has come attracted a lot of criticism for causing severe injuries to thousands of Kashmiri civilians.