SRINAGAR: Once again an ambulance driver was hit by pellets fired by government forces on Monday when he was ferrying patients home from SMHS hospital. The police and CRPF say they are unaware of the firing.
Saqib Ahmad, 16 years old, a Class 10 student working as a volunteer with Social Reform Organisation (SRO) since the first day the uprising began in Kashmir, was shot at with pellets at Palpora, said Abid Bhat, who accompanied him.
“We dropped a lady patient who was accompanied by her three attendants at her residence in Palpora. On the way back, Saqib was shot at with pellets when he opened the ambulance window at Madr-i-Mehbar ground. I dragged him to one side, put myself on the car seat and hurriedly drove away to save our lives,” Abid said.
According to Saqib’s medical prescription, pellets have entered Saqib’s face, neck and abdomen. He was immediately rushed to SMHS hospital where he was treated.
Saqib and Aqib are both volunteers of SRO, an organisation that has been providing free ambulance service to the injured since the uprising began on July 8. Crowdfunded and worked by students, the NGO has two ambulances, whose drivers are also students.
Javaid Ahmad, a PhD scholar in English literature at Kashmir University, said, “We take 10 to 40 patients and their attendants every day to and fro from hospital. The organisation spends between Rs 3,000 and Rs 4,000 on petrol each day.”
The NGO’s ambulances are a huge relief to patients and their attendants. In the morning the ambulances also ferry dialysis patients to their respective hospitals.
On Monday, Abid said, a three-star CRPF officer cocked a teargas gun at the ambulance driver Saqib at the cement bridge that connects one end of Srinagar’s suburbs with the downtown.
CRPF public relations officer Rajesh Yadav said that deployment was removed at the time of the alleged incident, though he will examine the complaint. Police officer Suhail Mushtaq told Kashmir Reader that the area comes under his jurisdiction but “there is no deployment of his men in the area.”
Almost a week ago, another driver of the NGO was beaten by government forces at Batamaloo. Javaid said he had later filed a complaint at Batamaloo police station but nothing came out of it.
“We know the man who did it. We even told the police that we can identify him. But nothing has happened,” Javaid said.