Bijbehara massacre: A survivor’s account; `Death comes when it has to come’
Srinagar, Oct 23: Death follows a strict calendar and it comes when it has to come. Fourteen-year-old Riyaz Ahmad Ganaie proved it on October 22, 1993. He was in the procession that was intercepted and fired upon by the BSF troopers near Post office, Bijbehara. He sustained multiple injuries in the chest, abdomen and hands but survived.
Talking to Greater Kashmir, he said: “We came out of the Jamia Masjid and marched towards the highway. A BSF party allowed us to march ahead. However, the moment we reached near the post office, I heard a shot. Before I could decide what to do, bullets were showered on us. I saw a number of people getting hit and falling down. Finally I also fell down. A bullet had pierced my chest. I lay down there quietly for some time till the firing stopped. Slowly I raised my head only to receive a shock. I was lying on the road all alone.
I stood up suddenly and ran towards a lane but several bullets hit my chest and abdomen. I saw my intestines coming out of my belly. I held them with my hands but two bullets hit my hands as well. However, I continued to run for my life.”
Riyaz paused for a moment and took a deep breath. He held back his tears. “While I was running, a neighbour Gulab Khan saw me. He lifted me on his shoulders and ran towards my house. My mother came out and was shocked to see me drenched in my own blood. A few men accompanied to the hospital. The door was closed and a BSF trooper was standing there with his finger on the trigger. My mother tore her phiran (a sort of loose gown that Kashmiris wear in winter) and stood in front of him. `Come on shoot me. See what you have done to my son.’ The trooper allowed us in. I was the first victim to reach the hospital. But the doctors referred me to Anantnag hospital.”
Meanwhile, other injured were also brought to the hospital. After first aid they too were referred to other hospitals. “We were literally dumped in a police vehicle. The vehicle was stopped by army men near Sumji’s house. Sumji is an important figure in Bijbehara and is associated with Hurriyat (G). All injured were ordered to disembark. The volunteers accompanying the injured raised pro-freedom and anti-army slogans. The angered army men also opened fire on us. A few sustained injuries but the driver managed to take us away. We were again stopped at Khanabal by the army. Same questioning followed. We were freed when a soldier looked at me. There were no doctors available in the hospital and we were referred to Srinagar hospital. We were given a truck. At every camp, we were stopped and questioned. Finally we reached the SMHS hospital where a number of people were waiting for us. Somebody took me in his arms to the operation theater. However, the doctors did not attend me. Fortunately I had not lost my consciousness and heard the doctors saying that I had less chances of survival. They operated upon other injured. Finally my turn came. When I opened my eyes, I was lying on a bed. I had survived the bullets. Later I was told that the persons who, according to doctors, had more chances of survival had succumbed to their injuries. I was the only survivor.”
Reyaz showed his hands. The bullets marks are still there and he has lost some of his fingers. “I can never forget what I have gone through.” He said. Reyaz got married in November , 2013.He is keen to identify the martyrs who achieved martyrdom on that day but could not be identified.