By Ubeer Naqushbandi
SRINAGAR: Sara Bano, 40, is using a hand-fan to comfort her brother-in-law, Mohammad Shafi, lying on a bed in Bones and Joints Hospital, Srinagar.
Shafi, 38, has been feeling dizzy since the doctors amputated his broken right leg the previous day.
“He had gone to water the rice fields,” Bano repeats and cries. She is not in a state to take questions from anyone.
Wearing a peasant cap, Ghulam Mohiuddin, Shafi’s brother who is among his attendants, walks in and explains: “On August 5, Shafi, a farmer, went to water his fields in his native village Nagam in Budgam district. The field is some miles away from his Chadoora residence.”
“It was a Friday. After congregational prayers, protests erupted between protesters and forces. There was intense shelling from the forces, and the situation was very tense.”
Mohiuddin says that they became worried for Shafi, hoping that he would stay at some relative’s house till the situation normalises.
Shafi did try to wait before heading home.
“After coming to know about the situation, I thought it was better to stay at my relative’s place in a locality opposite to ours,” Shafi recollects.
At around 5pm, Shafi says he thought that the situation had turned normal.
“But,” he continues, “As I moved towards the main road to go home, I saw forces personnel standing there. I said a few prayers and tried my best to avoid them.”
“As soon as I reached close to the Masjid on the main road, I felt a burning sensation in my right leg and blood was oozing out from it,” he says.
The mysterious strike had turned Shafi unconscious, but his family, as per his brother, had heard gunshots.
“Forces, including the CRPF’s 187 battalion, deployed outside had gone berserk,” he says, adding they didn’t know that Shafi was shot until their neighbours informed that he was lying in a pool of blood on the main road.
The family, he says, rushed to the spot and called an imbalance to remove Shafi to the Sub-District Hospital Nagam.
However, the forces stopped the ambulance and thrashed its driver and injured Shafi.
“Shafi was like half-dead, but they thrashed him as well. We were beaten up too,” Mohiuddin says.
“The CRPF men vented their anger by thrashing the ambulance driver and Shafi. We were not allowed to move.”
After about one hour, the ambulance was allowed to take Shafi to the hospital where from he was rushed to Srinagar in a critical state while the driver received nine stitches in his head, he says.
However, it was not the end of their ordeal, as the ambulance had a tyre puncture near Wathoora.
“Luckily, the staff bus of SKIMS saw us. We moved Shafi into it and took him to Srinagar,” Mohiuddin says.
Shafi, he says, had lost blood, and needed to be given13 pints to survive.
Two days later, the doctors performed two surgeries, including grafting, on him and shifted him subsequently to the Bones and Joints Hospital.
“He was under observation. But yesterday the doctors amputated his leg,” says Mohiuddin.
According to doctors, Shafi had received four bullets that damaged tibia of his right leg.
“We had put a fixator while grafting had been done at the SMHS Hospital. But there was no blood flow into the leg, and it had developed gangrene. We didn’t have a choice but to amputate his leg. Otherwise, it could have resulted into necrosis (toxemia in entire body),” the doctors say.
Shafi has two daughters and a son. One of his daughters is in 7th class, while the other daughter and his son are in fourth grade.
“I will never be able to do farming again,” Shafi laments.