Srinagar: Inside Ward 20 at SMHS hospital, six people are facing difficulty in lifting a large muscular boy in his early 20s from a wheelchair onto the hospital bed. “I will stand up myself,” the big boy says and tries to stand up, but his legs buckle and the other six prevent him from falling. With help from other people in the hospital ward, the boy is placed on the bed.
One of the boys in the group of six breaks into tears. “You were a lion, my dear brother,” he laments. “Those tyrants have turned you into a dead lion.”
The boy who wept is Riyaz Ahmed, cousin of the pellet-hit boy, identified by him as Khalid from Sebdan area in Budgam district. “He had come to my house in Ompora, half a kilometer from his home, to assist me in Qurbani distribution on the day of Eid. There was a peaceful protest by locals in Ompura when Khalid reached there at about 5pm. Then, the government forces began shelling,” said Riyaz.
The shelling, Riyaz said, angered the people. “They fought a pitched battle with the government forces. During this clash, Khalid was hit by pellets in both eyes. A rubber bullet also pierced his left bicep,” Riyaz said.
“There was a lot of blood loss while we took him to SMHS hospital. If it would have been any other boy, he would have died of blood loss,” said Riyaz.
Riyaz said Khalid comes from a poor family. “He took up plumbing as profession and started earning at a young age,” Riyaz said.
Eid brings more victims to SMHS
Khalid had a passion for bodybuilding, Riyaz said. “He was fascinated with the physique of international bodybuilders, especially Arnold Schwarzenegger. He often used to watch his training videos.”
Last year, Riyaz said, Khalid had participated in a bodybuilding contest at Budgam. “See yourself how huge he is at 20 years of age. He had immense strength.”
“He was hard-working. His only fault was being in the juloos (procession). He was target-fired at. His family has lost their bread earner,” said Mohammad Mushtaq, Khalid’s neighbour.
An ophthalmologist at SMHS told Kashmir Reader on condition of anonymity, as he was not authorised to speak to the media, that “Pellets were laterally in his eyes. There is possibility of vision recovery in his right eye but there are least chances of vision recovery in his left eye.”
A weeping Riyaz said, “Now we need ten people to assist the boy who some time back would do the work of ten people by himself.”
When contacted, SHO Hilal Ahmed of Budgam police station said, “I don’t know what happened that day. It might be a case of stone-throwing. I was on holiday.”