Srinagar: The youths, who survived government forces firing on Monday during a pro-freedom demonstration in Sopore town of north Kashmir’s Baramulla district, said Tuesday that government forces ‘fired hundreds of bullets at unarmed protesters in revenge’ after a militant broke their cordon and escaped from the encounter site.
Large number of people protested near Krankshivan locality on Monday following a word that a local militant was trapped in the cordon. “As people were protesting, the troopers got engaged in curbing the protests, which paved way for the militant, Javid Ahmad Mattoo, to escape from the encounter site,” said an eyewitness on condition of anonymity fearing reprisal from the forces.
Following the escape of the local militant, 22-year-old cab driver Arshid Ahmad Shah, son of Abdul Aziz Shah, of Naseem Bagh locality of Seer, Sopore, was killed when troopers opened fire to quell pro-freedom protests near the encounter site.
Arshid received multiple gunshots in the chest causing his instant death. Besides him, four more youth—Naseer Ahmad Beig, Abid Gojri, Ilyas Shala and Shahid Ahmed—were injured in the forces firing.
Two among the four youth, who survived miraculously after receiving bullets in abdomen and chest, told Kashmir Reader that no stone pelting protests were taking place when the troopers fired at the “peaceful” protesters.
15-year-old Mohammad Ilyas, who is admitted to Ward 16 of the SMHS Hospital here, said that he was going to Krankshivan locality to shut down his father’s scrap shop when troops fired at hundreds of people. “They were marching toward the encounter site to express solidarity with the families, whose property was damaged in the gun-battle,” said Ilyas.
Eldest among the five siblings, including a sister, Ilyas a Class 10 student, received a bullet in the chest and collapsed on the ground. He was rescued by some youth and shifted to the nearby hospital. Doctors referred him to Srinagar.
“I was moving toward Krankshivan to close our shop which had been open since the encounter broke out on Sunday evening. Before I could reach there, I was hit by a bullet in chest. I fell on the ground instantly,” recalls Ilyas, as he moves his head right and left to seek some relief from writhing pain.
Next to Ilyas is another injured youth, who was hit by a bullet in the abdomen. Surrounded by his family, friends and relatives, the youth says “thousands of people were fired upon by the forces when they were moving toward the encounter site.”
“I was with my friends, when government forces fired indiscriminately at the people. I realized that a bullet has hit my abdomen only when it started bleeding. I took out my shirt and plugged the wound. In the meantime, a motorcyclist took me to the hospital. Everyone was running helter-skelter,” the injured youth, insisting not to be named, told Kashmir Reader.
“Bullets were raining. There was a total chaos. Everyone was running for life,” he adds.
Sitting aside him, his young friends said that the forces took life of Arshad in lieu of Javed, (who escaped from the encounter site) even as the area was relatively calm after the gunfight was over. They said Arshid would have survived had the forces allowed people to rush him to the hospital.
“The troopers didn’t allow locals to remove him to the hospital for treatment. He died because of blood loss. Timely treatment would have saved his life,” the youth said.