By Ubeer Naqushbandi
SRINAGAR: Outside the emergency ward at SK Institute of Medical Sciences, Soura, a man, in his mid thirties, is lost in a deep thought. The siren of ambulance brings him to senses, but he still looks dizzy, as if deprived of sleep for years.
The man, Mohammad Ashraf Dar of Wadwan, Budgam, in central Kashmir, lived peacefully with his family, whose only worry was the health of their mother, Haleema. She was scheduled to undergo a surgery in her back at SKIMS on August 8.
“But the destiny had something else in store for us,” said says.
On August 5, Dar and his younger brother Javaid Ahmed, 19, went to offer Friday prayers in the nearby playground at Narbal.
“The people from adjacent villages of Dharmulla, Wadwan, Arath, Botapora, and Chatbaguh had decided to jointly offer the congregational Friday prayers at 2pm on the call of joint pro-freedom leadership,” he says. “Like everyone else, we also went for the prayers.”
When the prayers ended at around 4:30 pm, Dar, heading home, saw his brother walking towards the Main Chowk with a group of about 20 boys.
“It was hot, and they had decided to purchase juice from some shop,” he says. “There had been clashes going on at the Main Chowk, but when they went to purchase the juice, it was calm.”
There was no news about Ahmed till 7:30 pm, when neighbours told Dar’s family that he had received a bullet in this right leg near Narbal Bridge.
“All of us were shell shocked, and we rushed towards Narbal,” Dar says, his expressions revealing the pain they felt.
“At Narbal.” He continues, “It was all a pool of blood near the bridge. Some people told us that he had been taken to SKIMS Medical College at Bemina, and we rushed to be with him.”
As he narrates the story, some of their neighbours visit to see Ahmed, and ask Dar to pray for his quick recovery.
One of them describes Ahmed as a “shy boy with matchless etiquettes”.
“He was always concerned about their mother, and used to help her in everything from cooking and cleaning to milking their cows,” he says.
Another of the visiting neighbours adds: “We came to know about him from the residents of Narbal. When they (Ahmed and other boys) had reached the Main Chowk, CRPF troopers were departing. But someone pelted stones at them, and they vented their anger by firing at Ahmed.”
For about 20 minutes, the troopers didn’t allow anyone to remove Ahmed to hospital, he says.
“It was only after the local women entered the mosques and announced that someone had been hit. The people rushed towards the spot, forcing the CRPF to flee, and helped him (Ahmed),” he says.
The visiting neighbours say it took them 92 buckets of water to clean the spot where Ahmed was hit.
The gory details of the scene bring tears into Dar’s eyes.
“After I, my two brothers, and some neighbours reached SKIMS Medical College, he (Ahmed) was being taken to SKIMS, Soura, in an ambulance. We got into the ambulance too, but I couldn’t recognise him; he had turned pale due to the loss of too much blood,” he says.
The medical records confirm that Ahmed was hit by a bullet “on the right side of leg in popliteal fossa or kneepit, piercing the main artery”.
The records also show that revascularization (repair) was performed on him on the first day, while the blood continued to ooze out.
“Again the treatment was repeated, but blood kept oozing out. This led to renal failure of the patient and he was put on dialysis. Finally, after 13 days, right limb was amputated,” said the doctor.
Medical Superintendent, Dr Farooq Jan, says: “The patient had received one bullet in his right leg. Currently, the patient is suffering from chest infection due to haemo-dialysis.”
Some 19 days before being hit in the leg, Ahmed had been thrashed by the government forces, Dar says.
He, Dar recollects, had got a call from a customer for delivering wooden paneling sheets at his Narbal residence.
“He had loaded paneling sheets into the load carrier at Parimpora shop, and was on his way back to Narbal. But the government forces stopped him and beaten him to pulp.
“That evening, he appeared changed; he had become disinterested with life. Two days after that incident, he told me, ‘We are living in an occupation. I would do something to get my nation out of it’.”
Since the day Ahmed was hospitalised, the family has not been able to milk the cow he used to take care off. The animal, Dar says, doesn’t allow anyone except Ahmed to come near it.
Fearing the impact on its health, the family has sold the cow, he says.
The CRPF, however, says that its troopers didn’t fire at Ahmed.
“It is totally incorrect that any bullets were fired that day,” a CRPF official says. “As per our records two companies—Alpha and Charlie of 29battalion—were deployed in the area that evening. And they only fired long-range tear-smoke shells and pump-action guns; no bullets were used.”