Fractured Future

With major city hospitals struggling to manage pellet and gunshot injuries, around two dozen boys are struggling with facial fractures at the dental college. Muhammad Raafi reports

عدیت ۱

There is chaos outside SMHS hospital’s emergency ward in Srinagar. After every fifteen minute, ambulance carrying fresh injured from peripheries, reaches here. There are around 200 volunteers, all wearing sleepless eyes, and unkempt hair, waiting eagerly to help the injured.

But on the other end of the road, away from the chaos, commotion and rising tempers, government dental college is overwhelmed by the devastation. “In last three weeks we have operated 22 patients,” said Ahmed, a dental surgeon who refused to give his full name.

Most of those referred to the dental college had fractured jaws and noses, and broken cheeks. “A number of them were beaten with gun butts, sticks, boots etc.,” said Ahmed.

Shujaa, 25, who refused to reveal his details, was operated on his right cheek last week. “I was sitting on a shop front when an armoured vehicle stopped near us. Without any provocation, four men jumped out of the vehicle and charged towards us,” recalls Shujaa. “After they caught hold of me they began beating me with gun butts and sticks. One blow landed on my face. I felt as if my cheek was detached from my body.”

In the same ward is Bilal, 38, was on his way home, along with his friends when police started chasing them. He hails from Dialgam village of south Kashmir’s Islamabad district. “They knocked him down on the ground and then began beating him with sticks and gun butts,” said an attendant who stays with Bilal.

Once at SMHS, Bilal was referred to the dental college, where his nose, cheek and jaw were operated. “We have fixed his jaws with plates,” said Ahmed.

Most of the patients admitted here have maxillary fractures. “We have fixed them with plates, while in some cases we are using conservative management using wiring,” said Bashir, another surgeon

At the far end of the same ward Tasleem, 32, is crying with pain. On July 10, Tasleem, along with his cousins was playing a game of carom on the roadside in Bijbehara, when three armoured vehicles suddenly appeared on the scene. “My two cousins managed to flee from the spot,” said Tasleem, who was caught by police along with his neighbour. “We were beaten ruthlessly. They kicked me on my face, head, and on my private parts.”

It was only after Tasleem’s cousins, after reaching home, alerted people that the forces fled from the spot. “By then they were almost dead,” said one of his cousins.

They were first rushed to a private dispensary, but given the severity of their injuries, they were rushed to Srinagar.

“He has a fractured cheek and nose. We already done one surgery,” said Ahmed.

Another youth, Suhail, who was operated in the cheek, just below his right eye, was sobbing in pain. He hails from north Kashmir’s Kupwara district. Suhail tells everybody that he was out to fetch food and vegetable for his mother, a sugar patient, when he came across a contingent of CRPF and police. “I told the policeman, whom I knew, about my condition back home. He understood and let me pass,” said Suhail.

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When Suhail was about to reach an adjoining village, CRPF men guarding village entrance, charged towards him. “They began abusing me. Before I could have reacted they started beating me with sticks,” said Suhail.

Within no time, a few policemen, who were sitting at a distance, came running and saved Suhail from CRPF’s clutches. “They quickly stopped an incoming vehicle and rushed me to the hospital,” said Suhail, who has stitches all over his face and around left ear.

Since July 10, doctors say they have received 25 injured who have sustained injuries due to excessive beating. “Half of them have gone through major operations.”

Tanveer Ahmad, who lives in Khrew area of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district, is struggling to sleep. “It itches badly,” he said in barely audible voice.

Tanveer’s was out to buy a feeder for his newborn nephew. “My sister was not feeling well. She was not able to breastfeed the baby,” said Tanveer.

The moment Tanveer stepped out of his house, paramilitary forces sitting on a parapet, shouted at him and directed him to go back. “When I pleaded with them from my gate, a CRPF personnel asked me to come forward,” said Tanveer. “As I reached near them they jumped at me. Then they began hitting me on my head with their boots.”

Tanveer cried out loud so that his family could hear him and help. “By the time they came I was already in a pool of blood,” said Tanveer.

Tanveer’s father carried him in his arms and rushed him to the nearby health centre. “It was closed,” said the father. “Then we brought him here in a neighbour’s car.”

The same day he was shifted to the dental college from SMHS hospital. “He has sustained multiple fractures on both cheeks. His upper jaws are broken,” said the doctor.

Tanveer adds in his feeble voice, “I am lucky to survive.”

Note: All the names in the story have been changed on request.

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