Srinagar: Asked if stone-pelting took place in the locality where Yusuf Khan lives, he replied that locals have been engaging in pitched battles with the security forces over the past five days. “Yusuf did nothing. He did not even go out. He suffered pellet injuries on his left hand as well,” he said, pointing at the wounds. Asked whether this correspondent can take a photograph of Yusuf, Mubashir said no. “There are consequences here,” he explained, while Yusuf lay motionless, on medication.
While Mubashir’s version that his relative was at home when he suffered a pellet wound may or may not be taken at face value, the fact that heavy stone-pelting incidents are taking place in downtown areas becomes evident.
Lying next to Yusuf on Bed No. 4 was Zafar, who too had suffered a pellet wound.
When this correspondent met the chief medical officer of SHMS, Dr Shaukat, he said that he was not authorised to speak. He restricted himself to saying that unlike 2016, when the hospital saw hundreds of pellet victims in the heightened wave of violence after the killing of Burhan Wani, the terrorist commander of Hizbul Mujahideen, this time the “incidents were far lesser”.
However, a group of young duty doctors in charge of Wards 7 and 8, where those with pellet wounds are admitted, said that since August 5, between five to 10 Kashmiris injured by pellets fired by the security forces had been rushed to the hospital. “Due to the prevailing situation, we are not supposed to talk. All the cases have been coming from within a 2-km radius of the hospital like Safa Kadal, Habba Kadal and nearby areas,” they said.
Though restrictions were relaxed in Srinagar for some time on Sunday, when it came to downtown, the security forces were making it appear as if they were relaxing it there too, but were in reality not. Across all lanes and bylanes in the downtown areas, it was only barricades, concertina and fully-armed and equipped forces that one could see, besides armoured vehicles.
Across Safa Kadal, Nowhatta, Khanyar, Fateh Kadal besides Maisuma, Bemina, among other localities in downtown Srinagar, the forces were allowing one or two vehicles and then abruptly asked other motorists to turn back. At some places, locals entered into heated arguments with the policemen, but they did not allow them free access.
On the road leading to SHMS Hospital, a family was seen pleading with the police to allow their autorickshaw in which an elderly man needed immediate medical attention. The personnel first examined the elderly man, enquired what had gone wrong and then allowed them to pass after 15 minutes.
“Surgeries have been performed on several youngsters who came with pellet wounds. But we don’t know if they will recover fully and get back their vision. Some of the injured even suffered pellet wounds to both eyes,” one of the doctors at the hospital said.
“Heavy stone-pelting is going in interior areas but since no phones are working and with the security forces denying access to these localities, we don’t know what is happening elsewhere. Only when they are somehow managing to come to the hospital are we learning about the stone-pelting incidents and the firing of pellet guns by the forces,” said another doctor.
Many other doctors this newspaper interviewed at the hospital simply chose to say that anyone who goes through the records of the last six days in Wards No. 7 and No. 8 can learn about the truth.
While on record no police official was willing to admit or even disclose what was going on in the downtown areas, privately they did say that all was not well in those localities. “It is a sign of what is coming in the next few days. We think that for Id there is likely to be trouble, but since all communication channels are down, we don’t know how things will pan out tomorrow. We are keeping our fingers crossed,” he said.
Elsewhere in Kashmir, many millions on both sides of the debate concur with their fingers....