Nowhatta Incident: The complete story

by Saima Bhat

SRINAGAR: As soon as the Friday prayers concluded at the Jamia Masjid, the area witnessed spontaneous protests in which a speeding CRPF vehicle moved down two youth in the old city’s Nowhatta chowk. Soon after, pellets hit two more young men and as one journalist survived miraculously when he was caught in the stone pelting.

The injured youth have been identified as Kaiser Ahmad and Muhammad Younis.

Kaiser Ahmed, 24, a resident of Fateh Kadal, was hit and then overrun by the CRPF vehicle. The doctors treating him at SKIMS, Soura informed Kashmir Life that his condition is very critical.

Kaisar Ahmad in the SKIMS ICU. Ahmad was run over by a speedy CRPF armoured vehicle in Srinagar’s Nowhatta Chowk on Friday, June 1, 2018

Present in surgical ICU of the hospital, the doctor said, “He is on double support as he has haemothorax (collection of blood in the pleural space), pneumothorax (abnormal collection of air in lungs), rib fractures and pelvic fracture. He is unstable.” He lost his battle with life slightly earlier than midnight when doctors declared him dead.

CRPF vehicle which hit two youth trying to flee from the spot.
KL Image by Mukhtar Zahoor

As per his attendants in the hospital, Kaiser is an orphan whose father Mohammad Amin was a salesman in Goa where he died of the heart attack. That happened many years back. Later, his mother also has died. He was reportedly staying with his paternal aunt at Namchbal Fateh Kadal along with his two unmarried sisters.

Another injured youth, Muhammad Younis, 30, is admitted in the surgical emergency ward of the hospital. The doctors treating him said, “He has polytrauma. His CT scan shows fracture in zygomatic bones with multiple facial bones fracture.” He added, “His Glassgow coma scale (GCS) is 15.”

A resident of Dalgate area, Younis was working as a sales boy in a shop in Koker Bazaar. He has two sisters and aged parents. He belongs to a modest family. Family sources said he has multiple fractures and is under surgical observation. The photograph that was published world over showing a man under the gypsy is actually Mohammad Younis.

What happened?

After the Friday prayers ended in Jamia Masjid a group of youth started protesting in the main square. “Today’s sermon was important after the desecration of the revered mosque at the hands of police and forces last Friday that left many people injured,” a witness and a local resident said.

Mirwaiz Umer Farooq who led the prayers actually focused on why the Jamia Masjid has remained the centre of the target of all the rulers since Sikh rule.

The resident said that the protests were going on in the whole area outside Jamia Masjid and suddenly a CRPF vehicle came from Khanyar and when it reached Nowhatta Chowk it was caught amongst the protestors where it hit two youth. It drove wildly into the crowd, the video footage shows. Then it stops after it sees impossibility of a movement and then it moves quite fast.Witnesses, however, said it stops because one person was under its tyres. Seemingly, it is there when the youth were crushed by the armoured vehicle.

The CRPF gypsy of 128th Bn, bearing registration number HR5503367, hit the two youth at around 1615 hrs. The gypsy was coming from Khanyar to Nowhatta.

“When the gypsy reached near Khawaja Bazar it was attacked with stones from all the sides,” a senior police officer said. “Some stone pelters even climbed on the bonnet of the gypsy. But the driver kept on moving towards Nowhatta Chowk where it hit two youth.”

It triggered a serious crisis in the entire belt. A family that had come for the shopping to the Nowhatta market, somehow, bundled the injuries into the car and drove them to JLN hospital in Rainawari the closest hospital to the spot of the crisis. It was from there that they were shifted to the SKIMS.

Once the injured were evacuated to the hospital, the youth were angry and violent. They resorted to massive stone pelting in the area

In the same incident, two more youth were hit by pellets in their legs and body, who are presently undergoing treatment in SMHS hospital. And a journalist was also injured when he was hit by a stone in his abdomen. All the three are stated stable as their treatment is going on in SMHS hospital of Srinagar.

As this report is being filed around 200 youth are stationed in the hospital.

CRPF Version

A CRPF vehicle was attacked by stone pelters earlier today in Nowhatta. Pelters tried to vandalise the vehicle and overpower it. Somehow the jawans inside escaped. This happened in the afternoon. Two pelters who climbed over the vehicle were injured and now admitted to the hospital. CRPF has shown utmost restraint by not firing even a single bullet because of Ramzan Ceasefire. Jawans did not act in panic but carefully drove past even though the video shows the dramatic nature of the attack by stones, bricks and iron rods. Separatists likely to portray and tilt this story as if this CRPF vehicle deliberately hit the stone pelters. However, the reality is for all to see. One can imagine what would have happened if the mobsters would have been able to open the doors of the CRPF vehicle. CRPF vehicle is from 28th battalion in Srinagar.

One of the three youth who were crushed by the speedy CRPF armoured vehicle when it drove wildly into a hostile crowd in Nowhatta on June 1, 2018.

Interestingly police avoided issuing a statement on this incident. Late in the night, however, a one-liner came through twitter: “The individual injured in the aftermath of Nowhatta incident today admitted at SKIMS continues to be critical as per medical statement.”

Viral on Media

The photographs of the event have gone viral on the social media. One photograph shows a bearded young man under the armoured gypsy and in another photographer another person is seen actually being crushed by the two front tyres of the gypsy.

Dar Yasin, APs celebrated photographer, clicked the entire horror from a distance. “I do not how it happened and it happened so quickly,” Yasin said.

The mass adverse commentary is suggesting that it seemingly is the new face of “Ramzan ceasefire” and the “new standard operations procedure”.

“Earlier they tied people to the fronts of jeep & paraded the around villages to deter protestors now they just drive their jeeps right over protesters,” Omar Abdullah wrote on Twitter. “Is this your new SOP @Mehbooba Mufti? Ceasefire means no guns so use jeeps?”

The Nowhatta incident in the second of its kind in recent days. Earlier a police armour truck crushed a young stone pelter in another part of Srinagar.

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