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Apart from bullets, pellets and batons, at least eight deaths were attributed to the sudden cardiac arrests apparently triggered by the fretful situation. Saima Bhat reports  

Sara Begum of Chee Islamabad.
Sara Begum of Chee Islamabad.

On October 21, 2016, Javid Ahmad Mir, 20, a first year student of Government Degree College, Budgam, died of cardiac arrest when government forces chased protesters, used teargas shells, and fired in the air. Mir, who according to his friends, collapsed after teargas shells exploded nearby. “He couldn’t bear smoke and loud bangs,” said a friend. “We thought he was hit by a teargas shell. But when we shifted him to local health centre (PHC Soibug) we found no injury mark on his body,” said his friend.

According to eyewitnesses, Mir, a resident of Nasrullah Pora in Budgam district, was watching local youth play cricket when clashes erupted between government forces and youth at nearby Mirgund Chowk. After clashes intensified, many youngsters fled towards the cricket field where Mir was sitting among spectators. “They were chased by the government forces who fired teargas shells at them,” said an eyewitness. “A shell exploded near Mir and his Pheran (gown) and other clothes caught fire.”

Mir died on way to hospital in Srinagar.

A local news gathering agency reported while quoting a doctor at JVC Hospital Bemina, Srinagar, “There were no injury marks on his body. The cause of death could have been ascertained if relatives had allowed us to conduct an autopsy. But shortly after Mir’s death, they took his body away.”

However, the first such death was reported on July 22, 2016, when Hajra Begum, 80, died of a heart attack, at her residence in Saderkoot village of Bandipora.

Her son, Saad-u-din Dar, a carpet weaver by profession, alleged that on July 17, clashes erupted in their hometown following which army started thrashing locals. “They also damaged our properties,” said Dar.

The incident that left four villagers injured forced locals to leave their village. “Almost everybody left the village. However as my mother was old she stayed back,” said Dar.

Next day, Dar’s mother called him and informed that army had entered their house last night and broke all our window panes. “She told me they had thrashed her too,” alleges Dar.

The incident left Hajra in deep shock. “She stopped eating anything. She would say what if army will come back,” said Dar.

Hajra would get up in the middle of the night and call Dar. “She would say, ‘take me away, army is coming’,” said Dar.

Five days after the incident Hajra died of a heart attack at her house at 5 am.

Jameela Khan.
Jameela Khan.

On August 11, 2016, Jameela Khan, 60, a resident of Nundresh colony in Bemina, Srinagar, suffered heart attack and died after CRPF men allegedly pointed a gun at her. “There were protests in our area that day,” recalls Jameela’s husband Abdul Rashid Khan.

As clashes intensified, government forces chased protestors through a lane outside Khan’s house. “They (CRPF) vandalized whatever came in their way,” said Khan.

To check the source of noise outside Jameela opened the window of her second story only to find a CRPF trooper pointing a gun at her. “She fainted instantly,” said Khan.

She was rushed to the hospital where doctors declared her brought dead. The death of Jameela has left Khan, 70, devastated. “She was my only support,” said Khan, who was diagnosed with cancer two years back.

Khan and Jameela lived alone in their two storey house after the marriage of their two daughters. “Now my daughters stay with me on rotational basis,” said Khan.

A day before Jameela’s death, Haji Abdul Rashid Dar, a resident of Rawalpora, Srinagar, collapsed a few yards from his house, when government forces fired teargas shells towards protestors nearby. “He shivered at the sound of shells exploding nearby,” said Dar’s son-in-law. “He had not medical condition or any cardiac problem.”

Immediately, Dar was taken to SKIMS hospital in Soura, Srinagar, where his condition was said to be critical. The next morning he died. “The doctors told us that he died because of cardiac arrest,” said Dar’s son-in-law.

But not every case of heart attack death went uncontested.

On September 30, 2016, Sara Begum, 65, died of heart attack when government forces allegedly pelted stones at her house in Chee village of Islamabad. “My wife panicked when they (forces) attacked our house with stones,” said Sara’s husband Ghulam Hassan Teli.

Looking at her condition, Sara’s daughter Arshi, took her mother to the kitchen to get her a glass of water. “Outside someone started beating our front gate violently. This frightened my mother and she collapsed instantly,” Arshi was quoted saying.

After the situation normalized a bit, Sara was taken to the hospital, where doctors told the family that she is already dead.

“This is purely a case of heart attack. She had no pulse when she was brought here,” said the doctor who attended Sara at the hospital.

Following the incident police issued a statement saying, “Sara was a known heart patient. And some people are trying to mislead by alleging that she died because of banging of door of her house by forces is far from the truth. The allegation is totally baseless and is therefore rebutted.”

Khushboo Jan
Khushboo Jan.

On September 19, when Khushboo Jan, a Class 7 student named, died of cardiac arrest at Gaddapora village in Shopian, it shocked everybody. The question everybody asked was how come a 13-year-old suffer an heart attack?

According to Khushboo’s father, a pro-freedom rally was scheduled to take place at Vihil area that day. Everyone from adjacent villages was marching towards Vihil. But, when government forces foiled the rally, it resulted in intense clashes.

Around same time, hundreds of women from different villages began marching towards Chatwatan village. “My daughter was part of one such group,” said Mohammad Hussain Bhat, Khushboo’s father. “But their group was asked to go back.”

Khusboo’s father saw her returning home when all of a sudden there was hue and cry in the village. “There was panic all around as somebody announced that army is coming,” recalls Bhat.

The commotion frightened Khushboo and she collapsed on the ground with blood coming out of her mouth and nose.

She was declared brought dead by doctors at local health centre of Harmain village.

The same evening local police released a statement quoting hospital authorities that the girl has died in all likelihood because of cardiac arrest. But her death is no way related to the incident that happened at Vehil.

On September 07, when clashes between protestors and government forces turned violent in Chawalgam village of Kulgam district, the air got filled with teargas smoke and pepper gas.

The noise of shells exploding outside made Abdul Gani Mir, 65, nervous. He began pacing inside his small courtyard. Five minutes later Mir collapsed and died. “He suffered a heart attack because of the shells exploding outside,” alleged a family member.

Essar Ahmad Parray, 33.
Essar Ahmad Parray, 33.

For Essar Ahmad Parray, 33, who allegedly died from suffocation after a teargas shell exploded outside his window on September 11, life was always a struggle.

In February 2015, Parray, a driver by profession, a cancer patient was diagnosed with CA rectum. He underwent a surgery and at least 47 therapies at SKIMS (Srinagar) and AIIMS (Delhi). “He used to spend most of his time at home,” said his elder brother Ghulam Hassan.

Hassan alleged that government forces smashed window panes and damaged their main gate after there were clashes in Lawaypora area. “One shell exploded outside the window where Parray was sitting. He choked to death after the smoke filled his room,” alleges Hassan, who was released same day by police after days of detention for addressing a gathering. “I saw blood coming out of his mouth. He was lying unconscious with his hand on his heart,” said Hassan.

Hassan called a local doctor who told them that Parry is in coma. “We shifted him to the hospital where he died the next day,” said Hassan.

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