Srinagar: It was 9 am on Thursday, and Amir Bashir went to see his aunt, whose house collapsed in the blast engineered by the army in Kakapora, after the killing of a local LeT militant.
“He had gone for tuitions, but he planned to first visit his homeless aunt, who was now staying with her children in a neighbour’s house,” said Bashir Ahmad, Amir’s father.
The 16-year-old, his father says, “Was just trying to be responsible. Because I was not home to empathise with my sister, my son tried to do that, and see what happened,” he trails off.
When the boys of Kakapora and its nearby villages were done with the funeral of the militant, and the protests started, Amir was walking towards his tuition center. “When the protest started he got scared and ran towards a lane, where the police fired on him. They fired three shots at him, hitting him on his back, arm and abdomen,” said Amir’s uncle. “We didn’t know what had happened till we got a call from Pulwama hospital that my son has been shot and they are referring him to SMHS,” adds Bashir.
“I want an answer from the SP as to why my son was shot. He has to answer. And if anything happens, I won’t spare the system,” Bashir said, angrily.
“We have hidden all this from Amir’s mother. She had a spinal cord surgery and at this point wants me and Amir to be by her side. Each day she asks about Amir, and each day I make some excuse. But for how long? asks Bashir.
But the mother of Latief Ahmad, another boy who was shot – in his back by the police – during the protest, cries each time she sees her son.
“We can’t keep her here. She goes mad when she sees her youngest son in bed with glucose and other drips injected in his body,” said Hamid, Latief’s brother.
The 17-year-old was one among many who had gone to attend the funeral of the militant. “We were coming back from the funeral when police men tried to control the mob and shot my brother,” Hamid said.
The bullet is still lodged in Latief’s back as the doctors have withheld the surgery. “We want a senior and experienced doctor to do the surgery. So far, the condition of both the patients is stable,” said a resident doctor, who was not authorised to speak to the media.
Latief’s brother is planning to move courts and ask for an explanation as to why ‘young kids are killed without reason. We need an answer.”
Then there are the pellet-gun injuries. Like another youth, Arbaaz, who was hit by pellets fired by the police in his left eye. This young man left his studies to earn living a living for his family by working as a mason. “I missed the first funeral which was at around 9 am, so I rushed for the second one. And we prayed, some boys chanted pro-freedom slogans which irritated the cops, and they started firing pellets at us,”Arbaaz said.
“They straightaway aim at your eyes without even thinking of the consequences. They don’t even see who is part of the crowd, or who is chanting slogans. Whosoever they catch, he’s called the culprit. This is their way of branding people as stone-pelters,” he said.
Arbaaz’s injuries were serious, and he was been operated on in SMHS hospital on Thursday. “As of now we cannot say anything. But he needs to be operated on again after some days,” said a registrar at the ophthalmology department.
But Arbaaz on Sunday left the hospital without informing the authorities and doctors at SMHS hospital. “We have no idea where he has gone, he left all his medical records here,” a doctor on duty said.
Sajad, another patient at SMHS’ ophthalmology ward, another young man who was hit in the eye by police-fired pellets in Kakapora said, “I had gone to attend the funeral of my schoolmate, who was two classes senior to me. If attending the funeral of your schoolmate is a sin, I am proud to have done that,” he said.
Dr Nisar-ul-Hassan, President Doctor’s Association Kashmir said, “The use of pellet guns is lethal. And one can adduce the lethality by understanding the fact that scores of young children who have been hit by these pellets have gone blind.”