As clashes between the locals and security forces continue for the fifth consecutive day, Daanish Bin Nabi spends a horrifying day at SMHS talking to the casualties of what is turning out to be a civil war like situation.
In the emergency ward of Kashmir’s Shri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital (SMHS) there is loud wailing punctuated with sobs and there are people everywhere. The room is over stormed with casualties and volunteers—some donating blood while others give food and medicines to the injured. There is no time to waste and everyone is working swiftly as more ambulances arrive carrying even more casualties. Since the Friday killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, the hospital has received more than 300 youth for treatment. 36 have died so far and over 1,500 have been injured in clashes between the people and the authorities in the last four days. These numbers include women and young children, some as old as 4 years of age.
The air of hopelessness and anxiety looms heavy at being separated from loved ones.
The siren buzzing ambulances that arrive every five minutes are stormed by volunteers as soon as they halt. Doctors, nurses, patients, staff hospital and injured youth, all bundled in ambulances are dropped inside hospital premises like cattle. A human chain, right from the main gate of the hospital to the ground lift assists the injured straight to the first floor of the hospital, where a makeshift casualty operation theater has been set-up.
The medicos state that 50 ambulances have been attacked so far and authorities have appealed to the public as well as the army and police to let these vehicles move freely. We lose the ‘golden hour’ if ambulances take many hours to reach hospitals,” GMC Srinagar authorities said. Golden hour is the one hour time period following a traumatic injury. “ Dr Kaiser Ahmed, Principal GMC Srinagar told Greater Kashmir. He also said that the people need to facilitate movement of ambulances. “We can only save lives if they (injured) reach us in time,” he said. According to the medical staff many lives so far have been lost due to excessive blood loss which could have easily been prevented.
The Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) said it was concerned about this policy of attacking the ambulances and the hospital. “These raids and assaults on the ambulances and inside the hospitals is not the first time. People in Kashmir have witnessed the same in 2008, 2009 and 2010 civil uprisings. Attacking hospitals and ambulances is a crime under the International Humanitarian Law and Indian armed forces have been repeatedly accused of this crime in Kashmir. There is absolute lawlessness and impunity enjoyed by the Indian armed forces and this must be condemned by the people of conscience in India and internationally.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who returned from a tour of Africa yesterday appealed everyone to stay calm, stating that no innocent would get hurt. But the streets of Kashmir have a different story where casualties are fast piling up.
There are more than five NGOs that are helping the families of those injured currently.
A long bearded gentleman in a white shalwar kameez stands out in the crowd as he directs his team members to various rooms and sub-rooms in the hospital. After two hours of working tirelessly, he finally introduces himself as Mohammad Ali Lone, in charge of the Help Poor Voluntary Trust (HPVT).
“Please tell me what happened here”, I murmur.
“How can I describe this situation? Since the last three days we have attended to over 150 patients so. We provide free medicines, water, and food to doctors, nurses, staff members, injured youth and attendants. There is a medical crisis here in Kashmir and international community does not take note of it. Every doctor of the hospital has hardly slept since the clashes broke out. There is shortage of medicines, but we somehow manage to provide free medicines to the injured.”
Indian Police in Kashmir
Posted by ਰਾਮ ਜੰਗਾ on Monday, July 11, 2016
While Lone talks, inconsistent wails and sobs keep going on in the background.
Minutes later there is loud buzzing and an ambulance arrives from the Hajin area of Bandipora district carrying an unconscious body of twenty-year-old boy. Volunteers jump on the tarmac as I try to talk to someone accompanying the body. Finally I get hold of the driver Naseer Ahmed who says there was stone-pelting going on in the town when he left for Srinagar. His ambulance is broken, it has no windows but Ahmed isn’t bothered and is in a rush to make the next round, “I pray to Allah to save this soul…I have been ferrying injured youth from last three days and have hardly slept. Police and CRPF have wreaked havoc. They are the only hindrance between Hajin and SMHS hospital. This was my eighth round of coming to SMHS. I have to go back now and my only worry is CRPF and Police.”
In the emergency ward of the SMHS there are no windows too, they were smashed two days ago. “All this mayhem was by the Police on the second night of protests. They arrested almost 50 volunteers that night. We don’t know what will happen to them as we have no news of their whereabouts,” says an HPVT volunteer.
The emergency reception center is buzzing with more than 50 people desperately waiting to get their loved ones registered. The helplessness on their face is apparent.
While chaos ensues inside the hospital, one can hear the Azadi slogans reverberating from the mosques.
Aijaz Ahmed Batloo, who is in-charge of Hope for Humanity group says that, “more than 200 youth have been injured so far. I have a team of about 20 volunteers and we have donated 10 to 15 blood points but the main issue is that there is a crunch of main drugs at the trauma centre and opthomology wards.” Aijaz goes on to share an anecdote that describes the plight of Kashmir currently, “on Sunday, an ambulance carrying injured youth was coming from Newa Pulwama. They were stopped by CRPF and Police midway. Forces beat the injured youth, attendants and the driver to pulp. The driver sustained injuries on left side of his head. He just ran away from the scene. CRPF cut the blood vein of an injured youth too. The attendants who were with the injured youth drove the ambulance to SMHS hospital. The injured youth who was bleeding profusely and was soon referred to Bone and Joint Hospital Barzulla. But we don’t know his status as of yet.”
Burhan always in our hearts is scribbled on the walls of SMHS with marker pens.
One cannot stay outside the makeshift casualty operation center for more than a minute where bullets wounds, pellet strikes, broken limbs, scattered nails, knee injuries, broken ankles are all on display.
A 12-year-old boy from Rajwara, Pulwama, was hit by a pellet. He describes what he remembers before the incident, “We were outside a lane and there was a huge gathering of people. I was also standing among them. At a short distance, CRPF had laid a barricade. We did not provoke them. We were just standing there looking at the people who were going to attend Burhan’s funeral when all of a sudden they fired pellets on us and I was hit in the left eye.”
The boy has lost 90 per cent of his vision in the eye.
Another youth, a 21-year-old from Newver, Pulwama, was brutally tortured by the notorious Special Operations Group (SOG) and JK Police. “I wasn’t part of any protest rally, stone pelting or Burhan’s funeral. Our neighbour had died and I had gone to attend his funeral at a nearby mosque. While coming back at noon, I was held and subsequently tortured by SOG and the police.”
He has fractures in his right arm and is bruised all over his body. Attending doctors say that it will take at least three months for him to recover.
Another child from Pulwama aged 12 states that he was playing outdoors when tear smoke shell hit him in his right leg.
Before he can finish narrating his ordeal, some twenty youth surround me and start to beat me. All are enraged because of the police excess and label me a CID man. I try to explain my credentials but no one is willing to listen until an elderly person intervenes. Eventually I am left alone and told off for coming to the makeshift casualty operation ward.
I begrudgingly walk out of one hell hole to another—Ward no 6 and 7 of SMHS.
These are ophthalmology wards of the hospital and I am not prepared for what I am about to witness. Seeing the sea of people, I feel as if the entire Pulwama district has descended upon these two wards that house more than 100 injured youth that are victims of pellet injuries. In this already cramped space there are also attendants and volunteers who are desperately trying to squeeze themselves into the little space available to help.
The first victim I try to talk to is a 16-year-old boy from Pampore, “Injured youth who were coming from Kulgam were stopped and beaten by the CRPF and JK Police near our village. We could not resist intervening and tried to rescue them from the clutches of the forces who fired upon us and my left eye got damaged. There are around 97 pellet victims in these two wards and 27 of them are serious.” His cousin brother, who is attending to him says, “there is deep penetration of pellets in his left eye.”
Another pellet victim, aged 30 from Islamabad is outraged at the government’s apathy in dealing with the grave situation. “People should not have voted for People Democratic Party (PDP). Governor’s Rule was much better than this one. Pellet guns are used for animals but PDP is using it on humans. We were sitting in a lawn and had nothing to do with the protests but police still fired pellets on us. Geelani is our father. He should not let this moment pass like we did in 2008 and 2010.” His attendant quickly adds, “forces use water cannons and tear smoke shells all over world, but authorities are using animal guns on us. Why they don’t use it in Jammu? It is because Jammu is a Hindu majority state and we are Muslims.”
The pellet victim also says that while coming to SMHS, CRPF and the Police beat them to a pulp, not sparing even the women.
Another aggravated youngster, who introduces himself as Basit, takes me to a corner so that he can show his brother to me. The family is from Achabal, Islamabad. “Look at what they have done to my brother. Pellets are still in his chest and right eye. They fired on us directly. How can they even think that we will be part and parcel of their society (read India)? They need our land and not the people. Forces stopped us first at Naibasti and then again at Pampore and at both place we were beaten to pulp. We were just animals in front of them,” he says, adding, “Azadi is the only way and only option for Kashmiris.”
In the outer room of these wards, five senior doctors are discussing something about a patient who was hit by pellets in both his eyes.
Outside, people are clinched to the door.
Dr Sajad Khanday who is evidently screaming at a junior doctor albeit in a hushed voice says, “there are more than 120 pellet victims around this time and there are 30 doctors that are attending to them. Adequate supply of medicines has been sought and there is no shortage of medicine for their treatment but almost 90 per cent of these patients have lost their eye sight. Even if they go outside Kashmir for treatment, they will not recover. We have not seen anything like this. Not in 2008. Not in 2010. Everything pales in comparison to what we are witnessing now. In three days, we received more than 100 pellet injured youth.”
Every day the numbers increase.
Today will be the fifth day since Burhan Wani was slain but the din he left behind is far from dimming. There have been more than 500 clashes so far between the security forces and the mobs across Kashmir. Out of the 34 casualties, one is a police officer. At least 16 more people were injured in Tral yesterday. A police post was set on fire in Pulwama. A youth was killed in Kupwara when the security forces open fired. 12 paramilitary forces have also been injured in the process. In this cesspool of blood and gore, violence is combated with violence.
At a ground level, the fight is simply between people and the Indian armed forces. But nothing compares to the outrage and hatred against Jammu & Kashmir Police as people hold them responsible for killing and maiming Kashmiris more than the CRPF or any other group. In all this chaos, the unfortunate and uncomfortable truth is that the civilian government is nowhere to be seen beyond meaningless statements they make in the media. It will take more than an appeal to parents on Mufti’s part to win over Kashmiri hearts that polled in favour of mainstream parties in 2014 only to pay the price of being killed by brutal state assault.
Indian Army crime on kashmiri peoples.
Posted by Jklf Spain on Wednesday, October 28, 2015