Srinagar: Congress MP Mani Shankar Aiyyar and journalist Prem Shankar Jha were booed out of the SMHS Hospital, where they had gone to visit the injured along with Indian civil society members.
Besides the duo, MK Venu (Journalist), Ruby Arun, (Journalist), Shabnam Hashmi (Social Activist/Anhad), Kapil Kak (Retired Air Marshall), Vinod Sharma (Journalist) OP Shah and Mohammad Hassan Ul Bana drove to the hospital in the morning straight from the airport.
But people recognized Aiyyar and Shankar and asked them to leave the premises while other members of the group were allowed to meet the injured.
Aiyar tried to shake hands with an attendant but he refused.
“We don’t shake hands with murderers. You should leave from here,” the attendant told Aiyyar
While the delegation was moving in the hospital, people were shouting pro-freedom and pro-Pakistan slogans.
“We know they won’t do anything. We are just showing them the brutality unleashed by Indian state,” said a group of youth who were following Hindustan Times journalist Vinod Sharma.
A man asked one of the members a rhetorical question: “explain what Jamhooriyat (democracy) is.”
The journalist explained what it meant but the man again asked, “Why do you kill us like animals?”
“You are not an animal but a human,” the journalist said.
The volunteers who have been providing food, beverages, medicines and other items to patients and attendants since the uprising started led OP Shah, Kak and Hashmi to the wards where those injured by the forces are being treated.
“They talked to pellet gun victims about how they got injured but were not allowed to shoot pictures or videos,” witnesses said.
Inside the Ophthalmology Ward 8, the team was welcomed by pro-freedom slogans by the injured who shared how they were “targeted by forces”, witnesses added.
“Azadi,” said the injured when asked by the visiting members what they wanted.
Asked whether they are being paid to protest, an injured man replied, “If we were being paid we would be forcing people to join us. It is a people’s movement and we believe in it.”
A former PDP member, Bashir Assad, who had coordinated the visit, said, “The purpose of the delegation was to assess the damage caused by pellet guns and listen to the injured. We were not at anybody’s behest in the hospital.”
Assad said Aiyer was turned back by the attendants in the hospital because of his Congress affiliation and Jha too was asked to leave the hospital.
“There is a lack of political response in valley and it was felt at least the civil society of India should visit Kashmir and feel the pain of people,” he said.