Fareeda Mushtaq, who is in her late twenties, was moved out of the intensive care unit at Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Science (SKIMS) during the movement and taken to post-operative care. The monitor beeped beside her, two tubes inserted through the right side of her abdomen carried blood in and out of her body. The nurses tied her hair together in gauze. Unable to speak through the oxygen mask on her face, the only sounds that she let out were sighs of pain.
She was unaware that her husband was dead.
Fareeda is the wife of special police officer (SPO) Mushtaq Ahmad Sheikh, who was shot inside their home at Katsoo in Bijbehara area of Anantnag district on March 29. Mushtaq Ahmad Shaikh died on the spot, while Fareeda sustained bullet injuries in the right side of her chest. The bullet left her body causing lacerations on her lungs and after fracturing several ribs.
At the Srinagar hospital Saturday, Fareeda was struggling to breathe. The only way to ease her pain seemed to be by keeping her right arm permanently stretched over her body towards her left arm. She could not turn on her side and she did not have the strength to hold her arm in that position, so her brother, Mehraj Ahmad, held her arm and tried to comfort her.
When relatives entered the ward during visiting hours, her brother quietly whispered, “She has not been told yet.”
One of seven siblings — five sisters and two brothers — Fareeda was married to Mushtaq for eight years.
“Roughly six years ago, the two of them decided to live separately from Mushtaq’s family and built a wood and tin shed to live in. They did not have a house,” Mehraj said. On Thursday evening, they were shot at in the same shed.
Police said that the SPO died on the spot while Fareeda was admitted to the sub-district hospital at Bijbehara at 8:15 pm with critical injuries. The next morning she was brought to SKIMS in Srinagar.
“One of her neighbours called the same evening and said that her shed had caught fire. He did not tell me that my sister was injured or their were shots fired at her house,” Mehraj said.
Mehraj shifted his weight slightly while holding her and the slightest movement of her bed caused her to mumble in pain. Her eyes welled up.
“She has been conscious only a few hours now, not enough to ask about her husband. But when she is, I won’t know what to tell her,” her brother said.
Fareeda will spend more time at the hospital. Her doctors said that while she is out of danger, she will need to be attended to at the hospital. No other relatives were by Fareeda’s side on Saturday.
“The police department is taking care of the medical expenses. They have also given us the assurance that they will continue to support us,” said Mehraj, holding his sister’s hand to keep her steady.