Budgam’s Tosa Maidan Victim Still Motionless After Marathon Surgery

by Khalid Bashir Gura

SRINAGAR: The carefree life of a teenager Muhammad Asif, 13, was cut short when he landed his feet on a shell at Tosa Maidan meadow on May 26, the third day of Eid-ul-Fitr, hardly aware of this to be his last walk, talk and movement probably in life. Since then, after spending weeks on a ventilator in a hospital, as the 13-year-old boy was discharged on June 17, and is back home alive but unresponsive much to the agony of his family members.

Mohammad Asif

Unmindful of the death trap that lay beneath the feet, Muhammad Asif, 13, a resident of Budgam’s Dachan village, visited the picturesque spot of Tosa Maidan, with his friends. A blast and he does not know anything. For many days, he was battling his life in the ICU at Sheri Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences, Soura.

Disabled for life, Asif has a bleak future staring at him given the gravity of his brain injury. A metal splinter had pierced through his skull damaging his brain during the blast.

He was operated upon from 12:30 am to 4 am and a metal object stuck in his brain was removed according to his brother in law who brought him to the hospital. Asif was motionless, wired to a ventilator, in the Intensive Care Unit at the hospital. “For a moment he opens his eyes and closes,” says his brother in law, Muhammad Maqbool.

Asif’s 14th birthday is on August 15 and his family is keeping his fingers crossed if at all he will live to see it given the serious injury he has received.

Asif is the second youngest among his seven siblings.

In the afternoon on May 26, by 2 pm, Muhammad Maqbool received a distress call from Asif’s elder brother, Huzaif, 16, informing him that Asif was critically injured.  “We rushed at the spur of the moment, took him to the nearest hospital in Khag Tehsil, where doctors after assessing his injury immediately rushed him to SKIMS, Soura,” said Maqbool.

Mohammad Asif, 13, was injured in a blast in Tosa Maidan on May 26. After a long procedure, he was discharged from hospital on June 17, 2019. Photo: Special arrangement

Even though he has survived but we are discontented with the progress and have requested the government to facilitate his treatment outside the state. “It is the government carelessness which is responsible for his condition,” Maqbool said while acknowledging the effort of doctors in saving his life, the worried family wants his treatment to be done at a better-facilitated hospital outside the newly formed UT of J&K.

The ventilator has been taken off now but he is still not responding.

Asif’s father, Ghulam Hassan Wani is a poor farmer who has to support a family of eight. Lacking enough resources the family is struggling with treatment expenses and thus seeking government support. The family has spent thousands of rupees on medical expenses.

Initially, the Divisional Commissioner sent the family Rs 5000 and the respective Deputy Commissioner sent another Rs 5000. Recently the Red Cross has sent them Rs 50000. Lt Governor GC Murmu, according to the family has approved financial assistance to the tune of Rs 1 lakh.

However, Asif – if at all he survives – needs lifelong support. “We do not have any idea how we will manage,” a family member said. Asif, keeps staring without a response at family members, much to their agony.

Neurosurgeons who operated upon Asif have told the family that they have no idea if the young boy could ever walk or talk? Asif is almost half dead who keeps looking at his family members throughout the day without uttering even a single word.

The Tosa Maidan is a breathtaking meadow in Budgam that was used for decades as a Field Firing Range by the army. It was a massive mass movement that forced the erstwhile state government to not extend the lease. Quickly, the army started clearing the meadow.

Even though the army said in 2014 that it has sanitised the entire area in an 83-day long operation and the government in 2016 had thrown open the picturesque to locals during 3- day Tosa Maidan Festival and was planned to be developed as a tourist destination as it could be a source income to the locals but in reality, the macabre meadow continues to be a cause of death and destruction.

After two years, in 2018, a youth was killed and many injured as the place continues to be fraught with potential death traps and danger to be maimed for lifelong to which after all these years of administrative assurances, Asif is the new painful victim of the picturesque death trap. In the past 55 years, 65 people have died and many have survived maimed. In 1964 the land was leased to the army for 50 years which ended on 18th April 2014 but continues to be a death trap even after being fully sanitised.

“Each day we manage Rs 15000 for his treatment. A cheque of Rs 10000 was a joke and a salt to the injury,” Maqbool said. “The officers read a lot many books to clear the examinations. Is there any subject of humanity in their syllabus?”


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