‘They caught me, fired pellets in my thighs, dragged and kicked me in wounds and left me to die’
Srinagar, Aug 16:With the unrest entering second month, there is no end to civilian casualties with police and paramilitary forces resorting to indiscriminate force against protesters and bystanders alike.
Ajaz (name changed) was left to die on the street after policemen pumped 365 pellets in his thighs.
The 24-year-old youth, who has been left paralyzed due to the injuries, recalls how the troopers targeted him. “I had come out of the house to offer prayers. After the prayers were over, troopers came rushing near the mosque and stood close to me. I got nervous to see them. Infact I was trembling. They caught me and fired pellets in my thighs from close range,” says Ajaz.
“My thighs were bleeding profusely as if somebody had left a tap of blood open. But the cops were merciless. They dragged me and kicked me on my wounds. I was crying and they were enjoying my pain. After beating me to pulp, they left me to die.”
Seeing his condition, Ajaz’s neighbors rushed him to SMHS hospital.
“The policemen thought I am dead for the way they beat me nobody could have survived. And this is the reason they left me. My neighbors saved me by bringing me to the hospital.”
His injuries are so grave that the family members visiting him close their eyes when the doctors attend to his wounds. “Whosoever comes to see me swoon while looking at my wounds. My surgery was supposed to be done today, but the doctor says that my body is not prepared yet. Such is the condition they (cops) left me in,” says Ajaz.
At least 15 injured persons from Beerwah were admitted at SMHS hospital last Friday. Masrat Jan, 12, was one of them.
She was on way to her cousin’s house to study when a CRPF man hit her with a stone in her right eye. “Protests were going on in the area. A CRPF man took a stone and aimed it at my eye and I fell down,” Masrat recalls.
A resident of Lankrishpora, Bandipora, Masrat was brought home by her neighbors. “Her eye was bleeding when the neighbours brought her home,” says Farida, Masrat’s aunt.
A class 5th student, Masrat says, “I was crying in pain. My father immediately took me to sub-district hospital Bandipora and from there we were referred to SMHS hospital.”
“Since that day, I am constantly thinking about one thing – what was my fault, neither was I pelting stones nor was I protesting; why did they hit me?”
Sixteen-year-old boy Tanvir Dar was hit by pellet in the right eye.
Tariq Bhat, who is attending him at the hospital, recounts the turn of events last Friday.
“There was strict curfew in Beerwah since morning. Troopers were not allowing any one to come out of their houses. For the first time the call for Azan from mosques didn’t reverberate in the town. All the roads leading to the mosque were blocked with concertina wires and people who defied the curfew and came out from the houses to pray were beaten by government forces,” recalls Tariq.
“When the word spread that government forces were not allowing congregational prayers, people defied curfew and found ways to enter the mosques.”
Haroon Dev, another patient from Beerwah, whose right eye had been hit by pellets says: “People from all the villages of Beerwah –Gandipora, Chewdara, Saudipora,Gauripora,Saunpaw, sail, Zanigam,Aarva, Lalpora and Kandoora assembled at the main chowk and asked the authorities to allow them to pray in the mosque. But they didn’t allow and instead barged into our houses and broke window panes.”
“When they didn’t understand our sentiments, we protested against the inhuman act and they retaliated by firing tear gas shells close to us and pellets straight in our eyes. They created havoc in the town,” adds Haroon who has undergone a surgery at SMHS hospital.
Showkat Ahmad, 20, was left blind in one eye after coming under a volley of pellets. He narrates how forces kept a mentally challenged boy hostage to make the boys who were protesting against the atrocities of government surrender.
“There is a boy in our village called Afridi. He is mentally challenged, but we all love him for his innocence. He had gone out early morning for cattle rearing and was returning home in the afternoon. Police caught him and tied him to an electric pole to make all of us surrender, but people rushed and saved him,” he said.
“Last Friday the muezzin was allowed to give the call for prayers, but people were not allowed to enter the mosque. This Friday they crossed all limits.”