Kashmiris Made to Shed Tears of Blood

JULY 13: Huzaif Nazir, whose eye was damaged after Indian government forces fired pellets at him during a protest covers his face with a white cloth to hide his identity as he rests on a hospital bed in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir.
JULY 13: Huzaif Nazir, whose eye was damaged after Indian government forces fired pellets at him during a protest covers his face with a white cloth to hide his identity as he rests on a hospital bed in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir. (AP)

Iftikhar Gilani

In a surgical ward of All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi anyone who, however  hard hearted he may be, happens to witnesses an eight year old Asif being consoled and encouraged by his father Abdul Rashid by telling him stories of courage, patience and faith in Allah, to prepare him to live for  the rest of his life as a blind person, finds himself so much overwhelmed with pathos and unable to control shedding tears tainted in blood. In the adjacent bed there is a fourteen year old girl Afsha from Shopian who has all her face punctured with gun pellets. These two children are among those five of the seriously injured patients with gun pellets who have been referred here from Srinagar.

Few days ago when Rahul Gandhi,  the Deputy President of Congress Party visited this hospital when in the other ward a 25-year old auto-driver Firdaus Ahmad from Sopore who happens to be the only bread winner of his family and now who has been blinded was telling him that there were hundreds like him today in Kashmir who are facing similar tragic miseries. Undaunted with his predicament of being blinded he tells the visitor, ‘If by making him blind makes the political leaders open their own eyes then the bargain is not bad.’ Hearing the courageous outburst of this forbearing young man the Congress leader calmly walked away with his head bowed down.

Few days ago when Rahul Gandhi,  the Deputy President of Congress Party visited this hospital when in the other ward a 25-year old auto-driver Firdaus Ahmad from Sopore who happens to be the only bread winner of his family and now who has been blinded was telling him that there were hundreds like him today in Kashmir who are facing similar tragic miseries. Undaunted with his predicament of being blinded he tells the visitor, ‘If by making him blind makes the political leaders open their own eyes then the bargain is not bad.’ Hearing the courageous outburst of this forbearing young man the Congress leader calmly walked away with his head bowed down.

Well-known eye surgeon S. Nirajan says that it is the first time in his professional career that he has to deal with this kind of cases, not even in any war-torn part of the world such cases have ever been seen.

According to Hasnain Masoodi, the Retired justice of Jammu Kashmir High Court, presently the picture of the eye ward of Central Hospital of Sri Nagar is not less than a horrific nightmare because most of the injured patients after having gone through surgical operations many a times have very little hope of getting their eyesight restored. Ward No. 8 looks like a set from a horror film where the injured young ones lying there blinded get startled with fear from the slightest stir or any movements around.

Well-known eye surgeon S. Nirajan says that it is the first time in his professional career that he has to deal with this kind of cases, not even in any war-torn part of the world such cases have ever been seen.

At the moment most of the patients here in this ward are those injured who have already undergone surgery more than once and still they are worlds away from hoping their eyesight repaired or restored. There are some patients who have no one with them to nurse or take care of while there are lots of such other patients who have dozens of carers including some of their relatives with them. Most of the patients in beds have their eyes wrapped in bandages while some others have sun glasses on to protest whatever eyesight they have left with.

Mohammad Imran Parray, who got wounded after being hit by pellets during a protest recovers at a hospital in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir, Wednesday, July 13, 2016 | AP

There are parents who are wailing and crying over the loss of eyesight of their beloved children and feeling hurt and helpless inside for being unable to do anything to help them in any other way.

According to Justice Masoodi, seeing young children all around wrapped in eye bandages makes you lose your composure and hard to control your tears in agony. In this atmosphere of calamity and upheaval one thing however there to experience and take heart is their  spirit to share in each other’s trouble and make sacrifices to help them undaunted with their own troubles.

Hundreds of the youths and welfare organisations are busy in trying to help their fellow citizens. Food is being supplied for the patients and the carers. While hundreds others have donated their blood and have got registered themselves for this service.

An unidentified relative of 5 years old girl Zohra Zahoor, shows her injuries as she rests on a hospital bed in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir, Wednesday, July 13, 2016 | AP

Today the Kashmiris have once again proved that they have the courage and stamina to face any calamity without depending upon any help from their government.

I remember that during another situation like this in Kashmir in 2010I I got a chance to go for a reporting tour  with a team of selected Hindu journalist of Israel and Palestine. In Tel Aviv it was Israeli Prime Minister’s adviser Mr. David Reisner who was briefing us on this occasion. Mr. Reisner had once held an important post in the Israeli army and during the war in Lebanon had commanded a brigade as well . Besides that during Intifada he had held some important assignment as well. In that position the journalists were keen to know from him how he managed to control the unarmed Palestinians.  He told us that during Intifada of 1987 army and police under his control used Point 4 pellet guns but after assessing the results its use was banned and these weapons were now lying  dumped in stores getting rusted. The company that had  manufactured these pellets offered the  government to provide point 9 pellets that were a little less dangerous but the then Israeli government could not take any decision.  Mr Reisner agreed that it is not any easier to deal with the unarmed demonstrators than the armed ones specially when the world media is watching and reporting the incident.

It is surprising that simply after a matter of few months of our tour of Tel Aviv the weaponry that was lying and getting rusted in Israeli arsenal got imported by the ministry of home affairs for use in Kashmir. Mr. Reisner had also told us that he had also used and tested rubber-coated bullets and nerve gas but because both these weapons were also banned because of their life threatening effects on children. In our country now we are hearing about the possible use of these two weapons instead of pellet guns.

It is surprising that simply after a matter of few months of our tour of Tel Aviv the weaponry that was lying and getting rusted in Israeli arsenal got imported by the ministry of home affairs for use in Kashmir. Mr. Reisner had also told us that he had also used and tested rubber-coated bullets and nerve gas but because both these weapons were also banned because of their life threatening effects on children. In our country now we are hearing about the possible use of these two weapons instead of pellet guns.

Indian journalists were dumbfounded and sorry when the Israeli officer started telling them about the actions of Indian army personnel in Kashmir . He told us that Indian officers feel surprised and question differentiating between the armed and un-armed demonstrators in any disturbed area.  Mr. Reisner told us that an Indian general on a recent visit to Israel told him that in Kashmir they surround the whole of a community and enter house to search them. For them every door there is a sanctuary of a terrorist. Mr. Reisner said that in reply he told the Indian general that Israel although being blamed for their ruthlessness all over the world still it is not in their nature to undertake such operations without having   intelligence reports first.

Mr. Reisner did not name the India general but did say that he advised the Indian army delegation that by not differentiating between the armed and unarmed groups they are making the Kashmir situation more complicated. Compared with other war torn areas of the world the national and international media has greatly neglected the Kashmir issue.

Mr. Reisner was a member of the team that was led by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and that negotiated with the Palestinian leaders at Camp David in July 2000.  Mentioning this matter now is not defending the Israeli crimes (actions) in any way but is only to highlight the fact that how Kashmir has remained under reported through world media and   diplomatic channels and how little about it has been told to the world.

Young Kashmiri Child

Mr. Reisner did not name the India general but did say that he advised the Indian army delegation that by not differentiating between the armed and unarmed groups they are making the Kashmir situation more complicated. Compared with other war torn areas of the world the national and international media has greatly neglected the Kashmir issue.

Whatever has been reported does not cover areas of hinterland. Even the media from Srinagar is unable to go deep inside many far flung localities.  Few years ago I accompanied  the famous lawyer and columnist A G Noorani  on a visit to a beautiful  area known as Reshwari a part of the Langet Tehsil of South Kashmir.

Entering this beautiful valley covered with lush green woodland and hilly rivulets and at a distance of about 30 kilo meters we saw army men perched on the second floor of every house. We were told that owners of the houses lived on the ground floors while the second floors are taken over and reserved for the army men. Here in this area it was the first time that the residents happened to see media related personnel in the vicinity.

If someone ventures to go through the medical sciences archives of the Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences of Srinagar he will find details of such confounding details of cases that according to many doctors were for the last time reported only during the Second World d War in the German Intelligence Gestapo’s Interrogation centres. 

Similarly if someone ventures to go through the medical sciences archives of the Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences of Srinagar he will find details of such confounding details of cases that according to many doctors were for the last time reported only during the Second World d War in the German Intelligence Gestapo’s Interrogation centres.  Here (in Srinagar Medical Sciences archives)is a file that relates to a 37 year old Arabic teacher Muzaffar Hassan Mirza who was picked up from Tiral in October 1991. Later when he was brought to the hospital he was found seriously ill with a complicated medical condition known as RHABDOMYLOSIS caused by the extreme torture he suffered during interrogation. His muscles were getting dissolved as liquid and getting discharged through urination. During interrogation he was subjected to humiliating process of inserting steel rods saturated with petrol into his anus that had ruptured his abdominal membrane resulting into damage to the stomach and all of his intestines and that damage had penetrated higher up to his lungs. Remaining in this condition for three weeks he died in the hospital.

According to many of those foreign doctors who had come to Kashmir to study such cases some years ago, few cases like these were  also recorded in Beirut and Armenia after earthquakes there in 1983 and 1988 respectively.

In this part of the world there is a large number of such stories waiting to be told and researched by the investigative reporters and other journalists. A very thin glimpse of such stories can be found in the Hollywood film Heather and Adrian Levy and also in Cathy Scott’s book ‘The Meadows’.

However time has come now when some truth should be told to the world about events that have been taking place in this valley during the last two decades. It is now a fact of life that presently Kashmir is passing through its worst phase of history. To cow down or pacify the young generation that has grown up during past two decades will be a task nigh impossible. I had some years ago in a similar column warned that militancy in Kashmir although was in its last phase but to imagine that there had started a phase of permanent peace would be like living in a fool’s paradise. May be there is no thunder of the gun shots now but the war that is going on in the minds and the lava that is unseen has to be controlled before it is too late.

Kashmir has for the last four centuries been ruled through show of power and forced subjugation. The demonstrations during 2008, 2010 and now 2016 have proved that the psyche of fear through intimidation has now greatly evaporated although the presence of force is still there to be seen and borne.  If the governments still fail to understand and take notice of this metamorphosis then this part of the world is sure to get engulfed into the worst  instability. We will have to be serious to solve the Kashmir.

An atmosphere of democratic phase of compassion and understanding will have to be created. Importance to the people will have to be given precedence over the importance to a piece of land. If there is any movement in the direction of achieving this goal then we can be sure that the sacrifice of his eyesight that Firdaus Ahmad, the sole breadwinner of his family has offered and who through his straight answer coming deep from his heart had made Rahul Gandhi speechless,  would not go in vain.

The author is a senior Kashmiri journalist based in Delhi. He can be contacted at [email protected]

Translated by Urdu Media Monitor.Com from Jadid Khabar, Delhi, 3 August 2016

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