A 16-year-old boy is shouting in pain, asking for help. Three bullets have pierced his leg. A 79-year-old woman says she was hit by policemen with a hammer used to tenderise meat at her home. Her legs have turned purple and her left arm is in a cast.
In the district hospital at Anantnag town, where curfew has been in place for a week, are glimpses of what happened since last Friday, when protests erupted in Kashmir following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani.
Sara Begum said police barged into her home in Bijbehara. “They wanted to take my son. They started beating him and I tried to save him. They kicked and beat me. One of the policemen picked up a wooden hammer we use to tenderise meat and hit me with it,” she alleged.
Doctors said they weren’t hopeful she would recover completely “because she is very old and frail”. When contacted, Arshad Khan, Station House Officer, Bijbehara, denied any role in the beating and described her son as a “chronic stone-pelter”.
A senior officer of the district administration said they were aware of this case. “It will be investigated but only once things settle down. We can’t ask questions right now,” he said.
Teenager Mohammad Saeem of Laran Ganjipora received three bullet injuries on his leg when police opened fire at protesters. “Please remove the cast from my leg. The pain is unbearable,’’ he shouted, clenching his fists and beating his head on the pillow. Bilal, his brother, started crying. “We were not involved in any protests. Our only crime was to be outside at that time,’’ he said.
Also among the patients was Masooda, a 45-year-old housewife, who said she was walking with her husband and three daughters down a lane in Ashajipora when policemen came running. “I was unwell and my husband was taking me to hospital. We saw the police and turned back. But they opened fire… a bullet hit my thigh,’’ she said.
Masooda’s husband Feroz Ahmad Kadu, an autorickshaw driver, said he tried to rush her to hospital on a cart. “The policemen started beating me,” Masooda alleged. Doctors said the bullet shattered her bone.
Dr Malik Azad Hussain, a surgeon, said, “Almost all cases of bullet injuries seen since Saturday morning were above the waist.”
Another surgeon, Dr Altaf Wani, said he operated upon a patient for four-and-a-half hours. “The bullet had hit his stomach. He had multiple injuries in the gut as well. There were five youths who were hit by bullets in the spine. We referred them to Srinagar,’’ he said.
The government says the “use of force by police and securitymen is inevitable because the protesters in south Kashmir were very violent”. A senior police officer said, “Wherever forces have opened fire, they have done so as the last resort.”