By Tashafi Nazir
SRINAGAR: Wounded by a bullet in the right side of his abdomen and with scores of pellets in his face and body, Manzoor Ahmad Bhat, a farmer by profession, has just undergone a preliminary surgery at Srinagar’s SMHS hospital. He now lies quietly on his bed in ward no 8 of Ophthalmology department.
Manzoor is one among hundreds of civilians from Karimabad, Pulwama, who were injured in CRPF and police action on Sunday morning.
Manzoor was having tea with his family in his home when a team of army soldiers from Rashtriya Rifles, police and CRPF, came to the village and started smashing windowpanes, vehicles and whatever came in their way, he said. The troopers, according to him, stormed into residential houses and beat up inmates, including women, children and elders, mercilessly. They also began throwing teargas shells into the premises of houses.
“I went outside to see what exactly was happening. But as soon as I stepped outside, the men in uniform pointed guns towards us and fired. I felt as if something tore apart my abdomen and I fell down crying in pain,” Manzoor said.
Manzoor has a wife and two children who are yet to understand what has happened to their father. In the hospital, his children sit by his bed, looking at him with grieving eyes.
“Since morning they have been sitting like this. They do not leave my side for a second. This condition of mine has scared them,” Manzoor said.
Witnesses of the firing that took place in Karimabad on Sunday morning said that it began at 6:30 in the morning. Most of the people were asleep but some had just arrived from the mosque where they had offered morning prayers.
“After forces left the area, I went to the home of my neighbours who were beaten up and were asking for help. While I was there, troopers came back and lobbed teargas canisters into the house. After that they directly fired pellets and I was hit in my eyes, chest and legs,” said Bilal Ahmad Pandit, a 21-year-old student of BTech in civil engineering.
Bilal has multiple pellet injuries in his skull, face, chest, abdomen and upper lids of his eyes. He was scheduled to appear for GATE exams in February next year and had planned to leave for Delhi to attend coaching classes.
One of his attendants who identified herself as Bilal’s cousin, said that Bilal was a hardworking student who never indulged in stone-pelting.
Next to Bilal lay two brothers, Asif and Adil, with bandaged eyes and pellet marks all over their face. They, too, are residents of Karimabad village. Asif is a Class 11 student and Adil of Class 12. Both brothers have been hit by pellets in their right eye and are on the verge of losing vision in one eye.
“At about 7am, as soon as forces barged into the locality, announcements were made in mosques asking people to come out of their houses. When I came out, I was hit directly,” Asif said.
“Later we came to know that announcements were actually made by the policemen, so that people come out and they could arrest the youth easily,” the brothers said.
But the announcements drew people of several villages to Karimabad, the brothers said. On finding a huge crowd before them, police resorted to indiscriminate pellet and bullet firing, injuring hundreds of people, they said.
“It was like war. There was blood everywhere. I haven’t seen such a scene before,” Adil said.