‘Thrashed by army’ young baker struggling to recover

‘Thrashed by army’ young baker struggling to recover
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Family says would sell property for his treatment

Budgam: A 17-year-old boy from Budgam’s Rawathpora village, working at a baker shop in Omarabad Srinagar, was beaten to pulp allegedly by army on June 24.
Aqib Ahmad Khanday, had ventured out at Omarabad to buy milk.
“On that fateful day on 24th of June, a day after Dawood Salafi was killed along with his associates in south Kashmir, I left room to fetch milk. My cousin Tanvir Ahmad accompanied me”.
Writhing in deep pain, Aqib is lying on the bed restless and motionless at his home. His head wrapped in bandages, he has stitches on arms and bruise marks all over the body.
His parents are concerned about his recovery and are struggling to arrange money for his medication. For that they say they can “sell all our agricultural land”.
Aqib says he had just returned to Omarabad from home after Eid holidays, and moved out the same route to fetch milk.
The area was tense, but no protests were going on at the time.
“All shops were shut in the area while as thin traffic movement was seen on roads,” he said.
“To get milk we had to move to Narbal, some seven kilometers from HMT. We had come across the same way, so we knew that we can get the milk from there”.
After a brief pause, Aqib continued “After crossing the lanes and by-lanes, finally we reached the highway. Heavy deployment was made. Police, CRPF persons were guarding from both sides of the road”.
“I paid no heed to them, rather without any fear and any further delay, we started walking towards Narbal side,” he said adding as we moved almost 50 steps ahead, I saw the CRPF men steering to us”.
“In the meantime I saw two army vehicles coming from Srinagar side moving towards Narbal. Till then we reached near the Gurdwara (on the highway)”.
He alleged that when the army vehicles approached near them, the CRPF men signaled the army men to catch “hold of us”.
“They drove fast and jumped out of the vehicles in hurry. My cousin somehow managed to escape but I was motionless. I could not move even an inch because there were CRPF men from front side and on back side it was army men”.
“They then simply caught hold of me and without asking anything smashed my head with a bamboo stick”.
Blood started oozing out of his head, he said.
“They then pounced on me, beating my head, arms, legs with guns for at least 10 minutes. During this time they were only abusing me?” recounts Aqib.
“Later, two men caught hold of my legs and two my arms and tossed me to a shop shutter”.
“I cried and cried for help but no one dared to come close. Finally an old man approached towards me and pleaded to army for my release. He told them, why are you thrashing him without any provocation? Don’t thrash him now he will die,”
“But it didn’t work. They continued to thrash me with lathis even they thrashed the old man, who tried to save me after he thought that I may die”.
Aqib said he was taken to hospital by a few passersby after the army left.
He was referred to SKIMS Soura for treatment, where he received a surgery on head.
“I don’t think I will be ever able to move or raise my arm and work again. I have given up hope,” Aqib says.
Aqib’s father Ghulam Ahmad Khanday said they came to know that evening that their son had been thrashed badly.
“It was like a ‘qayamat’ (doomsday) for us. All neighbors came and gathered in our lawn. It was their support that we could spend the night awake”. As the dawn broke the family rushed to hospital, where Khanday said, doctors told them to manage at least Rs 80000 for his surgery.
“I sold cattle, trees and other property to get him operated,” he said. “I am a poor labourer, we have a house that shelters four households”
“He cannot move of his own, neither can talk much. Whenever he wants to relieve himself, it needs three people to shoulder him and take him out.”
“Look at the bruises on his body and back. They don’t let him sleep during the night,” Aqib’s mother Rafiqa Bano.
“Our family is dumbfounded since then,” she added. Khanday said a number of people visit them but no one among the administration or politicians “bothered to visit our home once”.
Aqib says he is haunted by nightmares after the incident. “I think I have born new in this world after serving the trauma,” he said.
Srinagar based army defense spokesperson Rajesh Kalia told Kashmir Reader that the allegations against army were baseless.
Hours after telling that he would verify the details first, Kalia said:
“I spoke to army men, they are not involved in any kind of thrashing.”