The Young and The Restless

A teenager, Muzaffar never received the help he and his family were in desperate search of after he was shot at and paralysed during 2010 summer uprising. And now, it is too late. On October 12 he succumbed to his injuries and passed away. Saima Bhat met the boy and his crestfallen family a week before he was no more

Muzaffar Ahmad Mir, 18, has been bedridden for the past year. The most he can do by himself is blink—to make any other physical motion is just too difficult. He is one among the 4000 youth who were injured during last summer’s unrest. A bullet pierced through his chest, damaged his spinal cord and left him paralyzed.

Muzaffar cannot move his legs nor can he stand on his own. He needs four people to change his position in bed. He’s just a teenager, but even his simple desire to go out in an open space on his own is a luxury now. “When he wants to go out in the garden, it takes ten people to fulfil his desire because we have to lift him along with the mattress he is on,” says his mother Sara.

After undergoing an operation on his damaged spinal cord, Muzaffar had to spend six months in the hospital. Most of the body parts of this young man are wrapped in bandages because he of the severe bed sores he developed over the course of this year.

“His wounds are so bad right now that there is constantly a transparent liquid that oozes out from them,” says Sara. “He has lost his appetite. It has been one and a half months since he had any solid food.”

According to doctors, a bed sore or an ulcer is the degeneration of parts of body tissues developing in a patient due to a prolonged bedridden state.

Bedsores usually involve areas like the back of the skull, spine and heel. Such wounds appear as sloughed tissues on the body, exposing underlying structures like muscles, blood vessels and bones. These sores are often infected and have a foul smell. Doctors say they can deprive the body of essential nutrients, proteins, vitamins and minerals by discharging or losing them continuously through the raw surface area of the wound.

And that’s exactly what the young boy Muzaffar has had to endure.

“Muzaffar’s condition is deteriorating fast. I don’t know what he is waiting for, what he is hanging on for. He is about to die,” says Sara, who burst into tears several times while narrating the tribulations of her son.

As Sara looked towards her son, she said she couldn’t help but remember the days leading up to his birth. “I prayed so many prayers, offered so much niyaz for him to come into my life,” she says. “But just look at my fate, just look at what has happened to my innocent child.” Sara and her husband, GhulamNabi Mir, had a son and three daughters prior to Muzaffar’s birth. “But his (GhulamNabi’s) father wanted him to have another son,” Sara says.

Muzaffar’s is a middle-class family. GhulamNabi is the headman of his village; he earns Rs.500 per month. He used to have a shop of his own, but that has remained closed since Muzaffar was left paralyzed. His family, especially his siblings say they spend all their time with Muzaffar. “We know he is not going to live for much longer now,” says his sister.

The family’s financial condition has made it even worse for him. “Whatever I had, I sold that for Muzaffar. I am ready to even sell this house for him, but unfortunately, that will not be of any use. I will have to take him to Amritsar or Ludhiana, which will cost more than 10 lakhs,” says GhulamNabi.

“You can get a sense of our daily expenses by seeing that we have to travel from Pampore to Srinagar for a basic medical test,” says his father. “Even care for his wounds is not handled by our district hospital. They say they cannot handle this here.” Mir adds that sometimes, even after travelling a long distance and waiting at the hospital in Srinagar for hours, they are sometimes sent back unaddressed.

Because of his severe medical condition, Muzaffar cannot travel in a car. He has to go in an ambulance, for which his family has to pay Rs.500. It is difficult for him to even sit. Both his job joints are dislocated due to the bedsores, and a private nurse charges Rs.1000 per dressing. Now his older sister is nursing his wounds.

“His expenses are not a burden for us, they can never be. But we want his health condition to improve, and that is not happening, which is disappointing,” says his father. “We see him dying with every passing moment.”

A few days ago, a blood report revealed that Muzaffar only had two pints of blood left in his body. The family had to arrange blood for him, and since then, he has developed a kind of allergy all over his body.

Muzaffar’s family has complaints against the state government. Mir opines, “If the Government can provide 5 lakh rupees to the families of those who were killed, why can’t they think about helping families whose children were badly injured like my son? This is a lifeless government, a qatil government which is not concerned about the people.” Mir has also approached the government for financial compensation to treat his son.

He says, “the tehsildar and DC have given in writing that my son was innocent and was not involved in any case of stone pelting. But the concerned SHO did not cooperate, due to which verification formalities could not be processed.” When Kashmir Life contacted the SHO of Pampore, Rashid Ahmad, he asked for some time to identify the case, and later said he will try to do whatever can in his capacity.

But no action has been taken.

Muzaffar’s father says if the SHO will give in writing that his son was innocent, it will increase the chances that the government will pay them compensation.
What happened that day?

It was September 13, 2010—the third day of Eid. Pampore exploded in intense anger after Mirwaiz Umar Farooq’sLalChowkcall for protests after Eid prayers. People from all areas of Kashmir were stopped from reaching Lal Chowk, which resulted in outrage, and some public property was set ablaze in the Pampore area. When the conditions were somewhat better, Muzaffar decided to go for tuitions after having lunch that day.

On crossing the Kadlabal Bridge over the Jhelum River, Muzaffar was fired on his chest from a point-blank range. Two CRPF personnel were hiding behind an electricity pole.

They opened fire on two more boys. On seeing three bodies lying in a pool of blood, a 15-year-old boy showed up and pleaded to the CRPF personnel not to fire on the bodies. The boy had come to see his sister, who had recently been married in that neighbourhood. One of the dead lying there that day was Javaid Ahmad, a young man who had just been married ten months earlier. A day after he was killed, his wife gave birth to their child.

Muzaffar’s father recalls, “When people saw four bodies on the road, they started shouting and they ran out of their homes. News spread like wildfire, and everyone gathered to see who the dead were. My older son had gone to do the same thing—and he saw his own brother lying on the road. He was shocked but suddenly saw that Muzaffar was still breathing. He and a few other people from the area managed to take Muzaffar to SMHS Hospital,” Mir says.

“In the hospital, three of the boys were declared as dead on arrival, and Muzaffar was shifted to SKIMS.” According to Mir, Muzaffar was then operated upon. The doctors told his family that the bullet that hit Muzaffar went through his chest and out from the backside, injuring four of his spinal cord vertebrae—resulting in paralysis.

Today, doctors say Muzaffar’s condition is a testament to the severe inadequacies in Kashmir. “It is a pure case of ignorance and lack of support from NGOs, civil services and proper medical care. These patients have a high chance of developing multiple secondary complications of immobility and a bedridden state,” says one doctor. “Patients need a frequent change of posture, a high protein diet, daily physiotherapy in addition to social and economic support to live a healthy and happy life. They also need proper education and awareness about the situation at hand.”

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