‘No warning shots, plain bullets’
Srinagar: Scenes reminiscent of the 2016 summer uprising were witnessed in the major hospitals of Srinagar when those critically injured at the Kulgam encounter site were brought to the two major hospitals SKIMS and SMHS.
Outside the operation theatre at SKIMS, about a dozen people comprising friends and relatives waited for the injured Bilal Ahmad who was getting operated upon inside the theatre. Bilal, 23, had received two bullets in his thigh while protesting against the killing of four local militants at Kulgam. Doctors treating him said that bullet injuries had led to fracture in his thigh bone and injury to his blood vessels. “Since there was a lot of blood loss, Bilal was shifted to surgical ICU. However, his condition is stable,” said a doctor wishing anonymity as he was not authorised to talk to media.
Those accompanying Bilal described the scenes at Frisal Kulgam as “war-like” and that the government forces were “hell bent” on killing unarmed civilians. “They were targeting us with bullets above our waists. There were no warning shots or any tear gas canisters fired but plain bullets aimed at killing us,” said 21-year-old Wahid, who was accompanying his friend Bilal.
Young men who identified themselves as Bilal’s friends said that government forces at Kulgam had crossed all the levels of tyranny and that the highhandedness of authorities had led to resentment among the youth. “Youth are very angry there, because authorities have made our life very hard there. Oppression is at its peak,” said one of Bilal’s friends while pointing to his blood-soaked pheran.
While Bilal’s friends kept waiting for their friend outside the operation theatre, 70-year-old Sarah, maternal grandmother of another injured, 18-year-old Younis Mohammad, kept stealing glances at the grim face of her grandson as he lay reclined writhing in pain on a bed in SKIMS observation ward. Younis was hit by a bullet on the back of his shoulder, resulting in contusions in his lungs.
When Sarah received the news about her grandson’s injury she left her cancer patient son behind at home and rushed to SKIMS to ascertain the condition of her grandson. “Just a couple of days ago we were discharged from the hospital as our son is suffering from lymphoma. Who would have thought we would be retuning with another injured,” said Sarah as tears trickled down her wrinkled face.
Sarah said that the family had not informed Younis’s mother about the condition of her son. “She is a hypertension patient and it is a risk to tell a mother that her son has received a bullet wound.
Asked why her grandson had risked his life by protesting at the encounter site, Sarah said: “Tati ous luka samandar, wen kati aes payi tim layin goli (there was a sea of people protesting there and nobody had thought that the government forces would resort to indiscriminate firing at unarmed protesters),” she said, adding that one cannot stop youth from pursuing their passion. “It is their sentiment and love towards militants that leads them to risk their lives to save them,” she said.
Echoing views similar to that of h is grandmother, Younis said it was “Jazba” (passion) that took him to protest at the encounter site.