Srinagar: Ward number 17 of the Bone and Joint Hospital in Srinagar resounds with cries and sobs. There are stories of spilled blood and shattered bones lying on its beds. The wounded are shocked by the tragedy that has befallen them, and their attendants huddle around, worried and weeping.
The ward houses five of the over 300 civilian protestors who were wounded on Friday after the Government forces used indiscriminate force to quell the pro-Independence protests across the valley.
Riyaz Ahmad, 22, from central Kashmir’s Dooru village of Khan Sahib, lies on a bed and his two friends sit around him, keeping an eye on his IV drip.
Soon after the Friday prayers, Ahmad said, thousands of residents of several villages surrounding Khan Sahib gathered and walked towards Khan Sahib Chowk chanting slogans for Independence and remembering those whole were killed by the government forces over the past month.
“As we reached near the Khan Sahab chowk, a massive contingent of police and CRPF stopped us. We requested them to allow us to stage a peaceful protest in the Chowk and told them that we would disperse afterward,” Ahmad said. “Instead, they started firing tear gas shells and used pellet guns on the people. The gathering dispersed and many boys started throwing stones at the police and the CRPF.”
While most of the people were running around to save their lives amind the shelling, he said, soldiers of Rashtriya Rifles- Indian Army’s special counter insurgency unit for J-K- came down near the Government School Khan Sahib and arrested four boys.
“People tried to save them from being arrested and tried to release them,” Ahmad said. “Suddenly the soldiers opened indiscriminate fire. I could only see bodies falling around me. They were targeting people and shooting bullets at them. There was running and screaming. It was doomsday”.
Ahmad too was running when he felt ‘a hot needle’ penetrate deep into his leg.
“It gave me electric shocks. When I looked down, my right leg was all bloody,” Ahmad said.
Ahmad’s friends say that they wound handkerchiefs and random cloths around his leg to cover the wound.
“There was not a single ambulance in Khan Sahib hospital and we lifted him up and put him on a motorcycle. We reached Arigam village. There was no ambulance there too,” one of the friends said.
Ahmad says that he was conscious of the pain and the blood that continued to ooze till they reached Karim Sher village of Budgam district here the finally found an ambulance.
“People put me in the ambulance and I was taken to SMHS hospital and from there I was referred here. My right leg was hit by the bullet. It entered from one side and left from the other.”
Lying beside him is 22 year old Bilal Ahmad, another youth injured in Khan Sahib, only more unlucky than Ahmad.
“Soon after the police and CRPF started shelling the people with tear gas shells and fired pellets guns, the RR soldiers opened fire. I could not believe that they were firing directly into the crowd, aiming at the people. I was reduced to looking around when two bullets hit my right thigh and I fell down,” Bilal said.
Bilal said that the road was covered with the wounded like him, trying to get up and walk away.
“I was bleeding profusely when two RR soldiers caught hold each of my leg and dragged me around for what seemed like kilometers. I kept shouting in pain and cried loudly. My clothes were all torn and in pain I ate dust. They were beating all the wounded,”
Unable to bear the pain and the beatings, Bilal, who was already losing his consciousness, says that, he became silent and pretended to be was dead.
“I feigned dead. I thought this is the only way to save myself. They really thought that I was dead and left me there. My leg was completely drenched in blood,” Bilal says.
Bilal too couldn’t find an ambulance and was carried to Kremshore hospital by four friends on their shoulders.
“On the way I was bleeding. My friends tore apart their shirts to block the flow of blood from the thigh. The blood refused to cease. I was suffering through unbearable pain. I can’t tell you. My right leg was completely lifeless. Later, a biker gave me lift till Kremshore village and from there I was shifted to Bone and Joint hospital”.
The doctors have operated upon his right thigh and pulled out the bullets.
“We were just peacefully staging a protest. Never thought, this incident will change my life forever,” Bilal said.
Nearby, on the bed number 17, Abdul Rashid, a farmer from central Kashmir’s Nagam area in Chadoora, lies numb.
Rashid was returning after watering his rice fields not knowing that a large pro-Independence procession had just passed through the chowk during at which the government forces had opened fire and killed a 45-year-old Muhammad Maqbool Wagay.
“I was going to my house in the Nagam Bazaar chowk. There were a few women who were protesting in the chowk and I kept walking toward my home,” Rashid, still in extreme pain, told Kashmir Reader. “And the CRPF, without any provocation, shot straight at me.”
Rashid was hit by five bullets.
The women carried Rashid who had fallen on the road and the cries brought the people to the streets again.
“People put me in an ambulance and just after we boarded, the CRPF again attacked us outside Nagam,” he said. “They broke all the windows of the ambulance. Then they beat up the driver and his head started bleeding,” Rashid said.
Everyone was brought down from the ambulance, Rashid said, and started walking.
“I too was dragging myself with five bullets lodged still in my leg,” he said in low voice.
After walking in pain, they saw an ambulance approaching them he was brought to the hospital.
The doctors have operated upon the leg of Rashid and pulled out the five bullets. He is still in acute pain and tormented by the fear that he can no longer work at the fields and that his five children will suffer.