Rewards of giving up protests: pellet-riddled body, bruised father, ransacked home

Rewards of giving up protests: pellet-riddled body, bruised father, ransacked home
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This story of slain militant Sajad Gilkar appeared in Kashmir Reader in September 2015 when he had given up protests

SRINAGAR: On August 16, a day after India celebrated its Independence Day, the usually turbulent parts of the old city were calm, and no incident of stone pelting was reported during the day.
In the evening, Sajad Ahmad, riding a motorcycle, passed by a contingent of CRPF soldiers in Saraf Kadal. He was returning home after work. They asked him to stop. He didn’t.
As he walked away, he felt a hail of pellet ammunition hit him in the back and head.
“I did not stop because I was not carrying the registration papers of the bike. I stopped at Rajouri Kadal. It felt like blood was oozing from a thousand pores in my body,” Sajad said.
He didn’t go to a hospital, but rushed home because people with firearm or pellet wounds are reported to the police the moment they land in hospitals, said Sajad.
“For three days I did not consult a doctor. But when the pain became unbearable, I went to a private doctor who removed more than 100 pellets from my body at his home. Though I have recovered a bit since then, dozens of pellets are still inside my body including my head,” Sajad said.
According to Sajad, 24, this incident occurred a year after he gave up participating in any protest. He had served jail terms under PSA twice, had been “brutally tortured” in custody and had been put behind bars for short durations on many occasions on mere suspicion or flimsy grounds.
To explain “suspicion” and “flimsy grounds”, Sajad said that on August 28 the police had raided his home to arrest him because they suspected he was one of the youths whom they had filmed hoisting Pakistani flags and posters of Hizb militant Burhan at Nowhatta chowk.
“When they did not find me home, they ransacked the household goods and then dragged my father out of the house. He was taken to the police station and beaten there. They tore up his clothes. He was released a day later and since then he is bed ridden,” he added.
This reporter found Nazir Ahmad, in his late forties, unable to move without aid, as his right leg has been injured by the police.
“Several of them trampled my legs and tore up my clothes. They abused me. The SHO of Nowhatta police station offered apology and said the cops who tortured me were from other places. But I told him that everything happened in his police station,” Nazir said.
“They showed me a video and pointed to some youth saying ‘this is Sajad’. I told them he is not. But they did not listen to me,” Nazir said.
The violence inflicted on the father-son duo and ransacking of the home has infuriated Sajad.
“It does not make any difference now whether I am a protestor or not. They give you the same treatment. This brutality would compel anybody to take any extreme step,” Sajad said.