By Ishfaq Reshi
Khag, Budgam: On a small bed in the crowded ophthalmology ward of SMHS hospital, lies eight-year-old Shahid Bashir of Kokar-Bagh, Khag, his family still unaware that he has lost his left eye. Swathed in bandage, the blinded eye is being administered some medicine by the doctors, who are finding it hard to keep the boy still, so much he writhes and cries out in pain.
On August 12, Friday, protests were going on in Khag area of central Kashmir’s Budgam district. Protests were also going on in adjoining areas like Poshkar, Hamchipora, Nagbal, and Sugan. When a crowd of protesters reached the main market of Khag, police and CRPF and army troops started throwing stones at the crowd, provoking the people into throwing the stones back at the troops.
“The clashes continued till late night. Hundreds were injured,” people of Khag told Kashmir Reader.
When news of the clashes spread in the area, women came out of their houses and walked in a procession towards the main market. Many of their children followed them, too.
“Shahid, a Class 3 student, was one of the kids who came out of his maternal father’s home located in the high mountains at Shopilan Khag. He had been staying there for the past few days, sent by his parents to shield him from the night raids that army and police were conducting in his village,” said Neelofar, a cousin of Shahid.
Neelofar said that when Shahid didn’t return home even in the evening, the relatives feared for his safety. It was almost 7 o’ clock when a neighbour, Javed Ahmad, brought him home. Blood was oozing out of the boy’s eyes and he was crying in pain. “His left eye had been hit when police were using force against the people protesting in the area,” Neelofar said.
The boy’s father, Bashir Ahmad, is a carpenter by profession, Neelofar informed. “We tried a lot to contact his parents but mobile phones are not working in our area. His parents are still unaware that their dreams have been shattered,” Neelofar said.
Fear has gripped little Shahid since the incident. Whenever he sees a crowd he shrieks and clings tightly to his aunt and cousin. Tears roll down their cheeks whenever Shahid cries.