April 2018 News

Sobs, Agony, And Anger As 70 Wounded Men Lay In Hospital Beds

1 April 2018
Greater Kashmir
Zehru Nissa and Ubeer Naqushbandi

Srinagar: Masooma had just awakened from her sleep and had begun to settle into a usual morning routine of preparing breakfast for her family. Her seventeen-year-old son, AdilRasool, was still asleep in his room. Outside their home, there was nothing unique about the early morning silence of the Gopalpora village of Shopian except for an on-and-off cry of a rooster or twitter of birds. But when out of this deep silence a sudden cry came from the loudspeaker of the village mosque, Masooma knew something was amiss and in a moment like this her first response always was to see that her children remained inside the house, and didn't venture out. While she was listening to the urgent and sombre voice of the announcer on the mosque loudspeaker, her son was also awakened by the emotional voice. Adil got up and slipped out of the house without letting his mother know. Adil became part of a growing crowd of villagers marching towards the site of the siege in which many militants found themselves looking at hundreds of government forces. Before the protestors could reach there, the forces came in their way and what happened in Shopian during those violence-filled hours can only be gleaned from the pain and anguish of the wounded in the trauma ward of the S.M.H.S. hospital in Srinagar. Adil's left eye is completely damaged by a shower of pellets fired by the government forces. In pain, Adil doesn't even want to talk about those moments as he stood with his mother outside a room waiting to get his head CT scanned. But Faraz Hassan, another teenage boy with his left eye reduced to a mass of torn tissue and coagulated blood, was willing to speak in detail of the horror that he and others experienced. 'I was one of the first ones to reach near the place where militants were trapped, with a group of about 70 people from our village,' he said. 'At about 500 meters distance from the encounter site they (forces) popped from behind a wall, and trained their guns at us' he remembered. 'It is a miracle that I'm alive,' said Hassan. Since morning the paramedics of the hospital have taken so many CT scans of the pellet-damaged eyes that the heated-up machine now has to be given a rest before it can tell Mohammad Shakir, another teenage boy, the scale of damage to his eye by pellets fired by the government forces. In order to quell the protests the government forces fired pellets at will leaving at least thirty people with torn up eyes. By the time Shakir and hundreds of others from their village of Chatwatal came near the siege site they could see columns of smoke rising in the distance. Abdul Gaffar, an uncle of Aqib Jan whose body has a trail of cuts and wounds left by pellets, still can't get over the shock of the reaction of the government forces. They had marched from their village Kundal to help the besieged militants. Many residents of Shopian who accompanied the wounded men to Srinagar said the protestors were so resolute to free the guerrillas that they went on marching despite the violence inflicted by the government forces. 'It was mayhem, people were falling to pellets, and still marching forth,' said Sameer Ayub, a local. 'Message had spread to every village over social media. Our sacrifice did not go waste. We were able to save some of our brothers who were trapped at Kachdora,' he said. Away from the anguish of the injured in the hospital corridors, the rising anger of people in the hospital compound filled the air as hospital ambulances drove in with more protestors, bleeding from their wounds. Raising pro-freedom, pro-HizbulMujahideen slogans many among the youth sobbed at seeing the young men with badly damaged eyes and bullet-inflicted wounds. A quiet distance away Nazia Begum sobs in silence. All she wants to know is where his son has been taken. 'At least allow me to see my son. Is he alright? Why don't you tell me?,' said Nazia, accompanying her son from their village of Rawalpora, in Shopian. A little distance away an elderly man gave out bananas to some and offered words of comfort to others. A group of young men stayed on in the hospital compound with the awareness that they might have to donate blood should the hospital's stock of blood be used up. Until 9 p.m. a total of seventy people had been admitted tothethree hospitals of Srinagar At least 50 lay in S.M.H.S., 30 with pellet-damaged eyes, and the rest with bullet injuries. Twenty others with bullet injuries in stomach, chest, and limbs were in S.K.I.M.S and the Bones and Joints Hospital. The S.M.H.S hospital Medical Superintended SaleemTak said: 'We are unable to reach at a figure yet. Many of the injured are yet to be entered into our records as they are rushed to Trauma Theatre straightaway,' he said.

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