Saima Bhat

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Ghulam Ahmad Sofi, 75, of Pulwama admitted in SMHS hospital. (Photo: Saima Bhat/KL)

He speaks with rapt clarity amid grim ambiance heavy with woeful tales and moans. Around him, bandaged youth are slouching on beds like comatose beings. But unlike them, his is a strange assault case. Despite being treated in SMHS hospital, the septuagenarian Ghulam Ahmad Sofi of Pulwama doesn’t know — what was that “something hot” sensation he felt on his right eye followed by a blood gush when Sumo vehicle he was travelling in came under an ‘army’ attack on September 18.

It was supposed to be a “happy day” for the 75-year-old Sofi who was returning home after dropping his grandson at Rajouri University. Inside the ward 7 of SMHS hospital, Sofi’s right eye is bruised with swelled lid. With his bandaged nose, he tries to explain that “something hot” hitting his right eye besides face.

“The sumo vehicle I was travelling in was moving fast — as we didn’t want to get trapped in any stone pelting incident,” says the ailing Sofi amid rising rush and buzz inside the ward. “I remember we were driving through fields where we spotted army. Nearby road was calm. There were no signs of any disturbances around. But, suddenly, they fired toward us and something hit me on my right eye. But I told driver not to stop — otherwise, who knows, what they would have done to us?”

Almost immediately, this native resident of Nikasgabalpora Pulwama began bleeding from his right eye. “I cover it with a piece of cloth,” Sofi says. He next drove straight to the district hospital, where doctors referred him to Srinagar. “I didn’t lose courage.”

Before the incident, Sofi says he was happy to inform his widowed daughter that her son will be an engineer now. “But shortly, my relatives at district hospital informed her about my injury,” he says.

Standing near his bed, Sofi’s tearful daughter manages to keep her father calm, but not herself.

“My son was born after his father died,” she says. “Then my father built me a house and both of my parents started living with me along with my two daughters and a son. But now, see, what happened to my father because of me!” The daughter breaks into fresh stream of tears — like many visitors of the injured inside the ward.

As army isn’t expected to use pellets, tear-gas, Pava or any other crowd-control weaponry in Kashmir, Sofis of Pulwama are flabbergast over the question—then, what hit their elder on his way back home on September 18.

The daughter briefed by doctors and others says, “It was a kind of shell that exploded on his father’s face, damaging his eye completely and fractured his jaw bone and nose.”

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