BANDIPORA: As if bullets in 2008 were not enough to maim Mohammad Afzal Parray, 35, of Hajin, a volley of pellet this time hit him in the same leg a few inches above his bullet mark.
On Tuesday, Afzal had the taste of this dreaded weapon that has blinded scores across Kashmir. Pellets tore into his flesh when he was protesting with others of his area near Hajin Eidgah against the government forces.
Recalling the previous incident when he was hit, Afzal said that it occurred in August 2008 when separatists gave a call of ‘Lal Chowk Chalo’. Afzal was among 600 people who assembled at main chowk Hajin, ready to proceed towards Srinagar.
“We were raising pro-freedom slogans while more and more people joined the gathering. Once we decided to move towards Srinagar, a continent of government forces arrived and started baton-charging us,” Afzal recounted.
“This worsened the situation and people from adjoining areas joined to raise their voices in protests against the police action. Several youth started pelting the police with stones to save people from blows of the police batons.”
Afzal said that women, too, joined the protest, whereupon the police resorted to heavy tear-smoke shelling. When it proved ineffective, they started indiscriminate firing on the protesters, killing two locals, Bashir Ahamd of Bharabad and Sahid-ul-Islam of Saderkote Bala.
“I received several bullets in my left leg. It felled me and lay in a pool of blood,” Afzal said. “Locals managed to take me to Hajin hospital where I was referred to the Bone and Joint Hospital in Srinagar.”
“Bedridden for a year, I had to undergo several surgeries but the limp could not be corrected by the doctor,” Afzal said.
Eight years later, this Tuesday, Afzal again went with others to protest near the Eidgah. Once again stones were hurled at police and paramilitary troops, who responded with firing pellets. Afzal, like many others, was hit from a 4-meter range.
“I first thought that I was again hit by a bullet. Later I realised that the injuries were caused by pellets. They had left a trail of marks on my left thigh,” Afzal said.
He said that one of the persons standing before him jumped into the river Jehlum to save himself. “I could not do so because of my handicap,” Afzal said. “I was hit by the pellets along with my friend Noor Muhammad.”
“One of my neighbours risked his life and carried me on his shoulders to a safer place,” Afzal said. “I was rushed to Hajin hospital were doctors treated me well.”
Afzal said that he considered himself lucky that he was not hit in the eye, as two boys in his area were, on the previous day.