SRINAGAR: Doctors at SKIMS hospital here are puzzled over a new symptom they have encountered in a patient with pellet injuries: seizures. Twice during Thursday night when he was admitted to the hospital, a 16-year-old boy named Tauseef began to shake rapidly and uncontrollably while he was unconscious. Doctors told his parents that the boy needed to be under examination for 48 hours, but they have not yet been able to figure out the reason for the seizures.
Tauseef’s medical records show multiple pellets in left shoulder and chest. “Normally in pellet cases, the patient does not become unconscious unless pellets hit the head. But in case of this patient there are no pellets in his head. We are ascertaining the causes of his unconsciousness and his seizures,” a doctor attending to Tauseef told Kashmir Reader, wishing anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media.
Naseema, Tauseef’s mother, is frantic with worry at the hospital. She continuously asks the doctors, “Amis kar yeam hoash (when will my son regain consciousness?)” and then bursts into tears.
There are two middle-aged men standing near her. One among the two men takes her outside. The other man, a stocky figure with white moustaches and unshaven face, says he is the father of the boy, his name Nazir Ahmed Malla.
Nazir said that on Wednesday night the family heard thuds of grenades and rattling of guns in their village at Argam in Bandipora district at about 10:30pm. “The villagers understood from the sounds a gunbattle was taking place somewhere inside the Chapran forest. For the entire night the village did not sleep,” Nazir said.
The next morning, Nazir said, villagers came to know that 2-3 houses in Gujjar basti inside Chapran forest had been blasted by government forces claiming they had information of presence of insurgents in the houses. “The elders of the village decided that if government forces have blasted the houses, let us demand the bodies of the killed insurgents,” said Nazir.
People of the village started coming out on the roads, said Nazir. “People from the adjoining villages also came to our village. The small procession swelled into a sea of people by midday,” Nazir said.
The elders decided to sit in front of police station Argam to press their demand for the bodies of killed insurgents. At about 1:30pm, when government forces were returning from forests, they started indiscriminate shelling and firing of pellets at the gathered people, Nazir said.
As Nazir was narrating the incident, the other man who had taken Naseema outside returned. He introduced himself as Majid Jehangir, neighbour of Nazir. “I will tell you what happened actually,” Majid said in authoritative tone.
“All the people were sitting on the road near the police station. When government forces led by SHO Argam arrived, they fired indiscriminately on the people,” Majid said.
Pointing towards the unconscious boy on bed, Majid said, “He was sitting with me. He suddenly fell like a withered autumn leaf. When I picked him up, he was in a pool of blood.”
He said they rushed him to nearby medical shop. “The compounder told us to take him to Bandipora hospital immediately. At Bandipora hospital, the doctors after attending to him referred him to SKIMS in Soura.”
The medical records of Tauseef also show that he lost a litre of blood from his injuries. “The time it took to bring him to hospital resulted in the blood loss,” said the doctor attending to Tauseef.
The hospital administration of SKIMS told Kashmir Reader that “the condition of the patient is stable”.
Nazir showed the blood-smeared T-shirt that his son was wearing the day he was injured. It was pierced with minute holes caused by pellets. Nazir said, “Recently a minister said we are concerned about the future of children. This is the future they have made of my child.”
The Argam police station house officer (SHO) did not pick up the phone for his comments.
A senior police officer confirmed to Kashmir Reader that force had been used on the crowd in Argam. “After forces were returning from encounter site, they saw that people had blocked roads. The people threw stones on us. We did shelling but it was not indiscriminate. One boy was injured in that. He is currently in SKIMS Soura,” the police officer said.