Srinagar: Lying semi-conscious on a bed in the observation ward of SKIMS hospital, Abid Ahmad, a Class 11 student from Kulpore, Kulgam, has been in agony since Friday night, when he was shot by a volley of pellets in his head in Tahab area of Pulwama district. Doctors say that the pellets have bored through his skull and caused “severe damage” to his brain.
Doctors at SKIMS hospital said that the pellets were shot from such close range that they fractured his skull. After two surgeries, one performed at district hospital Anantnag and the second at SKIMS, doctors have removed 40 pellets from inside his head, but eight still remain.
Doctors said that it was now difficult to remove any more pellets from inside the head. Another surgery can be attempted if the patient shows improvement. Doctors said that the recovery would take several months.
“The blood has clotted inside his head due to injuries to his brain. The pellets penetrated deep into his head,” a doctor, requesting anonymity, said.
He said that Abid may witness severe pain for several weeks due to his injuries. “Right now our focus is on extracting the clotted blood, which is causing him heavy pain,” said the doctor.
On Friday, massive clashes erupted in Tahab area of Pulwama after the Friday congregational prayers. Abid’s friend Imdad-ul-Haq, who brought Abid to SKIMS from district hospital Anantnag on Friday night, recalled: “We had just finished our Friday prayers in the local mosque. A few dozen men were assembled outside. We were planning to hold peaceful demonstrations. As people advanced towards the nearly road, the government forces attacked the procession with pellet guns and teargas shells. Several people were injured.”
“The firing created panic in the area. Youths hurled rocks at the troops. The area was engulfed in intense clashes for several hours,” said another attendant of Abid.
He said that the forces later made “another attack” that left another dozen of youth injured. More than 70 people were injured that day in Tahab, he said.
“A group of people, of which Abid was part, was chased by the troops. Near a local bridge, Abid was shot in the head from just four meters away,” Abid’s friend Imdad said.
“He was drenched in blood when we took him to a nearby clinic and then to Islamabad district hospital. Doctors there said that his condition was worsening, after which we brought him here (SKIMS),” his friends said.
His friends said that they “escaped death” when they were attacked with stones for a stretch of half-a-kilometre by troops deployed on the main road in Bijbehara area of Anantnag district.
“They were trying to stop the ambulance, so that they could beat us. We told the driver to not stop, come what may. The forces continued pelting stones on our vehicle,” one of Abid’s friends, who himself sustained injuries in his head from the stones, said.
He said that a number of stones entered the ambulance and struck him and his friends.