Pulwama’s Poswal

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Umar Mukhtar met the doctor whose son was born and raised in the same hospital where he was declared dead and offered the funeral prayers

On April 29, 2002, a rainy morning, Dr Abdul Gani Poswal was blessed with his second child, Faizan. He was born at district hospital Pulwama where his father was posted. Gani is putting up at residential hospital quarters since the 90’s.

Sixteen years and two months later, on June 29,  2018, Faizan now a tenth class student at MEI Pampore, refused to go to school. “It is raining outside and it is half day also. I will not go to school today,” Dr Gani remembers Faizan telling him.

Till noon, Faizan was at home, preparing for his upcoming exams. As the Azaan was called, Faizan closed his books, got some neat clothes from a cupboard and took a bath. He combed his hairs and left for Friday prayers empty stomach. He promised his mother that he will have lunch after prayers.

As the prayers were being offered, a cordon and search operation was launched in Pulwama outskirts; Rumours suggested three militants were trapped. People came out of the mosques and started marching towards the site. These included Faizan.

As the gun battle was on, people gathered and resorted to sloganeering and pelting stones on the outer tier of the cordon managed by police and paramilitary forces. Teargas shells, bullets and pellets were flying around.

As clashes and encounter news reached Dr Gani, he attempted talking to his son but Faizan did not pick the phone. Surrounded by patients, Dr Gani kept his phone back in his pocket and resumed his work.

At 4 pm, Dr Gani left towards his quarters. He was about to ask his wife about Faizan that Dr Gani’s phone buzzed- an emergency call from the hospitalHe rushed back to the hospital.

As he reached there he saw almost all his colleagues standing around a bed – a teenage boy. Turned their heads towards him, they looked at him with gloomy faces.

It took some time for Dr Gani to adjust to the new reality: It was blood-soaked Faizan’s body. Doctors said Faizan was fired upon thrice. He had two bullet shots in his chest and one in the abdomen. Faizan died at the same hospital where he was born. He spent his childhood in the same hospital campus. His funeral prayers were also offered in the same hospital premises before his body was dispatched in an ambulance for Gosannad Pampore- the actual residence of Dr Gani. A permanent resident in the hospital, Fazian had a local nickname: ‘doctor ka ladla”.

“Faizan was very conscious of our identity. From his early childhood, he was very keen to know about the conflict,” Dr Gani said. “He used to read about it, discuss it with his elders.”

Faizan’s Facebook profile has Rebel as a prefix to his name Faizu ‘Rebel Faizu.’ Most of the posts on his timeline are related to the conflict.

Faizan used to be part of the student protests in 2017 which erupted after army and police entered Pulwama degree college campus. A senior police officer had once told a colleague doctor of Dr Gani that ‘doctor’s son was pelting stones.’ Dr Gani met the police officer, they discussed the matter.

Later, the police officer and Dr Gani were in touch. “Once Faizan saw my WhatsApp messages and he was upset,” Dr Gani said. “He asked me why I was chatting with a police officer.”

The conversations between the doctor and police officer were not normal.  The messages doctor often get, were intimidating and sort of warning. The recent heart-wrenching video where a boy was moved down by JKP vehicle, the officer sent that picture to the doctor with a caption ‘see what fate stone throwers meet.’

In 2016, Faizan had a narrow escape when he drove his father’s car and met with an accident. He survived unhurt but the car suffered huge damage. “You do not love your children, how you can permit your minor son to drive,” remembers Dr Gani a police officer telling him. “Today they killed him”

Dr Gani can be seen most of the time in emergency unit nursing the injured and bullet-ridden bodies. “I have seen many people die before my eyes. But seeing a dead body of a son is something that is hard for any father to reconcile with.”

“They killed my son, what is in their credit; a 16-year-old boy’s killing. Two militants still managed to escape!” questions Dr Gani.

The atmosphere at home was a friendly one. They always used to talk and discuss the Kashmir conflict. “I used to discourage him from pelting stones. My point was always stone is never a reply to a bullet.”

But the doctor, once discouraging his son from stone pelting is now ready to go to any extent to bring the killers of his son to justice.

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