Srinagar: Recounting the bloody battle in the small village of Bellow in south Kasmir’s Pulwama district, Aqib Ahmad, whose brother was hit in the eye and is undergoing treatment at SMHS hospital in Srinagar, says that “they were reborn on Saturday after surviving countless bullets and pellets shot by the forces.”
Mourning the death of Burhan and his two associates, protesters were fired upon on Saturday when they tried to reach Burhan’s hometown, Tral.
Asif Ahmad (name changed) who was hit by pellets in his right eye, said, “We were holding a peaceful protest march against the killing of Burhan and two others, but soldiers came out of the army camp — which has been causing trouble ever since it was established here — and fired indiscriminately upon unarmed people.”
“Locals were fed up by the army’s routine harassment. On Saturday they (forces) exceeded limits by damaging a petrol pump and also looting a medical shop in our village. This triggered anger among locals who decided to remove the camp once and for all,” Ahmad said.
“We first protested against the excesses of forces and demanded removal of the camp,” Ahmad said. “The forces, however, crushed down the protest by heavy teargas shelling and aerial firing, after which people dispersed.
“Then, soon after 11am on Saturday, the people became ‘aggressive’ and assembled once again. They started protesting against the ‘brutality’ by government forces on unarmed protesters. We brought a full petrol can with us and decided to set ablaze the army camp. A huge gathering of angry protesters marched towards the army camp,” Ahmad recounted.
“The soldiers created a bloodbath by shooting at us several rounds of bullets and pellets, injuring nearly 50 protesters. They shot rounds one after the other and terrified the whole village. In all that heavy firing, nobody knew who was going where and what was happening where,” Aqib Ahmad, a Class 11 student who was injured by the pellets, said.
“Around 20 pellets hit my back and I fell down. After a minute when I looked up, I saw that several of my colleagues were lying in a pool of blood. The guns were still firing around us,” Irfan Ahmad, another Pulwama resident injured in the firing, said.
“The village is horrified now and nobody is coming out to protest. We are sure that the army will shoot to kill, not to injure,” he said.