By Shafat Mir
Anantnag: Ghulam Hassan Bangi, a frail man with white beard, is worried for the future of both his sons, Imtiyaz and Mudassir, one of whom was partially blinded by pellets in June, before the summer uprising had started, and the other who is in Kathua Jail in Jammu since August, when he was arrested under the draconian Public Safety Act.
A wooden shack with haphazardly kept grocery items is where partially blinded Imtiyaz Ahmed Bangi is struggling to earn his livelihood at the old locality of Sarnal here. Imtiyaz, a 33-year-old man, can often be seen trying to read the price on items he sells from this dingy shop. He was hit by pellets in his left eye on June 17 at Reshi Bazar in Anantnag. He had gone to the famous Hanfia mosque to offer Friday prayers.
“After finishing prayers, as soon as I stepped out of the mosque, I saw a group of youth being chased by police. A moment later, a policeman fired a volley of pellets towards the mosque gate. I was struck in my face and chest. The pellets pierced my left eye. Since then, I have been rendered disabled. Most of the times even my right eye can only see a blur,” Imtiyaz told Kashmir Reader.
Imtiyaz’s shop is the main source of income for his family, which includes his wife, three-year-old son, mother, and the aged Ghulam Hassan. Imtiyaz’s younger brother, Mudassir Ahmed, an electrician by profession, was taken away by police on August 18. Since then he is languishing in Kathua jail, with a second PSA order slapped on him.
Ghulam Hassan often hangs around the shop to help his elder son, but the business has been affected since Imtiyaz lost one eye.
“I usually stay here, as Imtiyaz most of the time suffers with a headache and his vision is not clear. Only after he sits down to rest for a while does he regain his bearings. Many times the customers who are always in a rush leave the shop as my son finds it difficult to reach up to the shelves for items quickly. Everybody cannot be patient with him. This has severely hit his business,” said the soft-spoken Ghulam Hassan.
Imtiyaz is supposed to meet the expenses of his family, which includes paying for the medicines of his diabetic mother, and also for his treatment for which he is supposed to visit Srinagar every fifteen days.
“After getting first-aid at district hospital Anantnag, we immediately rushed Imtiyaz to SMHS in Srinagar. A surgery was conducted there, during which doctors told us that there is only five percent chance of his regaining vision. After three days, we were suggested to go to Jalandhar hospital, which we did. During our 12-day stay at Thind Eye hospital in Jalandhar, we spent around one lakh rupees on Imtiyaz’s treatment, which included a surgery. But doctors were simply saving the shape of the eye, not the vision, as there was no chance of revival of eyesight,” Ghulam Hassan said.
In Jalandhar, Ghulam Hassan said, doctors had suggested another surgery which might revive his eyesight, but the family had exhausted all its resources. “If somebody helps out financially then I will surely go for the surgery. I feel so helpless that I cannot be of any help to my son during this time. If Mudassir would have been here, then we would have managed something. But he has been jailed very far away, and there is no hope of his returning anytime soon.”
Mudassir was picked up from his residence and taken to Kathua jail on the same night, his father told Reader. The police promised that he will be released by evening as they were taking him only for questioning.
“Mudassir suffers from a neurological ailment and is under the treatment of Dr Susheel Razdan in Jammu. He had been active during the 2010 uprising as a stone-pelter but during this uprising he would mostly be working or staying indoors for the fear of being detained by police,” Ghulam Hassan said.
“He will complete six months in jail on the 18th of this month. He is serving his second PSA detention. As soon as he was detained on charges of pelting stones, a PSA was slapped on him. On November 29, the High Court in Srinagar quashed his PSA order, along with that of six other detainees. But when we approached the jail authorities in Kathua with the papers of the court’s decision, we were told that another PSA had been slapped on him on November 17, days before the High court quashed his first PSA,” Ghulam Hassan told Reader.