Family unable to afford more surgeries
By Shafat Mir
Kulgam: For 28-year-old physical education graduate, Mudasir Ahmad Bhat, life has moved from surgeries to surgeries since August 27 when he lost his eye to a tear gas shell in Bugam village where residents were preparing a venue for a pro-freedom rally.
Mudasir’s left eye has been removed, and his nasal bone is also damaged, leaving his facial features altered.
“I cannot look at my young son’s face as it breaks my heart to see his condition. To add to this, my financial condition isn’t such that I can get more needed surgeries done on him,” says Abdul Hamid Bhat, Mudasir’s father.
A resident of Ramgarh village in Kulgam, Mudasir had been among the volunteers working at the adjacent village Bugam on August 27, 2016, when a posse of police and CRPF barged into the village.
Pro-freedom rallies were the order of the day in southern Kashmir in 2016, and Bugam was preparing for one of them.
Residents had blocked the roads and lanes overnight to prevent police and CRPF from entering into the venue. At 7 in the morning, as soon as volunteers cleared some roads to make way for participants, a posse of armoured vehicles of police and CRPF barged into the village. According to residents, the forces straightaway fired pellets and tear smoke shells, injuring at least 11 people. The venue turned into a chaos and clashes followed for next couple of hours.
“At around 7:30 in the morning, we were erecting a make shift stage, all of a sudden the vehicles of police and CRPF emerged at the venue out of nowhere. They started intense shelling of tear smoke canisters and pellets. A shell hit straight into my eye. I tried to plug the injury on my face but I saw blood oozing out of my left eye as if it was a fountain,” said Mudasir.
He was rushed to Kulgam hospital by locals with no one from his family aware about his fate.
Coincidentally, Mudasir’s elder sister had gone to the same hospital for a check-up along with her husband, Sartaj Ahmed Wani.
“All of a sudden, my wife, who was sitting beside me in the hospital premises, broke into wailing and screaming on seeing an injured youth whose face was completely covered in blood. She had instantly identified her brother, Mudasir, by his clothes,” said Sartaj Ahmed.
“He had lost considerable amount of blood and I consider his survival a miracle,” he adds.
Mudasir’s parents came to know about him, only when Sartaj managed to call a chemist in a neighbouring village Shalipora, as prepaid mobile connectivity had been shut off.
“Due to severe restrictions and curfew, no one from his family was able to reach to the hospital. It was only the next day we were able to reach SMHS hospital Srinagar where he had been referred to and was being treated. By the time we reached there, the doctors had already conducted an emergency operation on Mudasir and had removed his left eye as there was no way out to save it,” Mudasir’s father Abdul Hamid said.
Some months after, Mudasir had to undergo another surgery to separate his upper and lower eyelids which had jointed after clotting.
“I have spent more than three lakhs on his treatment since then. With little income for the family of five I am unable to conduct more surgeries on my son to restore at least the appearance of his face” said Hamid, a farmer.
Mudasir’s nasal bone got flattened in the incident and needs to be operated on along with his eye by plastic surgeons at SKIMS, he said.
In contrast to the despair visible on his father’s face, Mudasir’s face and words evoke hope and resilience.
“I find it satisfying that I have contributed my bit for the movement. Imagine the plight of those who lost their young ones during this struggle. Freedom comes at a cost. There are many who were completely blinded by this brutal regime. I am at least able to move on my own,” said Mudasir, with a smile on his face.