Suhail Ahmad Malik, 15, a class 9th student doesn’t remember what exactly happened with him on December 28, 2012 when forces opened fire on civilians in Pulwama. What he remembers is that he was returning home along with his cousin and a bullet hit him, he says. The bullet has passed through his skull and a piece of a broken bone has damaged his brain, his doctors at SKIMS say.
Doctors say that the bullet hit tangentially Malik’s skull which resulted in the bone damage on left side of his head and which in turn damaged his brain further. “He was brought in very critical condition and had suffered huge blood loss. After operating upon, he is stable now but has lost his control over the right side of his body and his memory is also getting weak,” said a doctor treating Suhail.
Suhail, son of Muhammad Shafi Malik, a daily wager in public water works department, is a resident of Bubgam village in Pulwama. He is lying on the bed number 9 of Neurosurgery ward in SKIMS and gets
frightened while recalling the incident. He has lost his control on the right side of his body, and while talking he gets confused, he says as if his memory is fading but he wants to continue his studies.
Malik is one of the many causalities of the recent Pulwama firing incident. He after getting injured was taken to the district hospital where from he was shifted to SKIMS as he was in critical condition.
More than 15 civilians were injured after government forces resorted to indiscriminate firing on protesters at two different places in Pulwama after an encounter took place in Bubgam (Chandgam) in Pulwama village.
“After the encounter was over, we tried to march towards the encounter site and when we reached only half kms away from the spot, army started firing indiscriminately in which many of us got injured,” said an injured local. After that another firing incident was reported from the Main Town. But state police denied the locals version and said when army Major was being evacuated for treatment, a mob attacked the ambulance by hurling stones at it. In the retaliatory action, army fired some shots in air.
However, as per the initial reports, Deputy Inspector General of Police (South Kashmir) Vijay Kumar, who was present in the operation, said that in the encounter two civilians also got hurt in the cross firing between the militants and government forces. But the locals’ complained that the two were victims of the army’s “target firing” and Suhail is one among them. His cousin, who was accompanying him at the time of incident said, “We are residents of encounter site where everything was normal when the army and Task force started beating locals in the once encounter was over. We were round about ? kms away from the place where allegedly stones were pelted. Suhail and I were just trying to save ourselves when army directly fired a bullet on Suhail’s head for no reason and then they left.”
After the injured were taken to the district hospital, eyewitness in the hospital said, “Police and security forces went out of control in the Hospital too and roughed up a number of doctors, patients and their attendants.”
The firing incident triggered massive protests in the district following which the authorities clamped curfew in the town and some of its adjoining villages. When curfew was lifted on January 01, the traders and transporters alleged ransacking of shops, houses and smashing of window panes of houses as well as vehicles by the forces.
“As we reached to restart our daily routine, we found the shutters of our shops were damaged. Dozens of temporary sheds were ransacked. So we did not open our shops and demanded the district authorities to come on spot but they did not turn up,” Bashir Ahmad, a local shopkeeper said. After which the tension brewed once again and hundreds started shouting anti-police and anti-forces’ slogans. The authorities redeployed the forces in the town and the situation took a violent turn when hundreds of youth started pelting stones on the men in uniform who retaliated by teargas shelling and several civilians got injured including Zubair Pandit, who was hit by a teargas shell on his face.
The curfew was later lifted after 5 days on January 03. Meanwhile, the government has ordered a magisterial probe into the incident.
The encounter started on receipt of specific intelligence input about presence of two armed militants in village Bubgam in Pulwama. A joint operation was launched by soldiers of 55 RR, 182 Bn CRPF and SOG in the wee hours of 28 December, resulting in killing of both the militants. Two Lashkar e- Toiba (LeT) men, Imtiyaz Ahmad Teli @ Fahadullah Kashmiri resident of Pulwama and Muhammad Aamir Bhat @ Khalid @ Khursheed resident of Shopian were killed in the Pulwama encounter and three army personnel were also injured.
Although fourteen days have passed but no one from the ruling government, or from the pro freedom groups visited Malik in the hospital except for the PDP president Mehbooba Mufti. Mufti visited Suhail and another ‘targeted’ victim in SKIMS and asked the ruling party to provide compensation to the injured people.
However, the mother of the victim Suhail is restless and continuously perceives her son. “I am bothered about the future of Suhail. We are very poor and our financial condition is very weak,” said a relative of Malik.