First Bullet and now Pellet: Pulwama Youth Battles It All

On Monday, when critically injured Muhammad Ashraf, the 28 year old youth from Romhoo in Pulwama was brought to SMHS Hospital, it was a Déjà vu for his companions who accompanied him.
First Bullet and now Pellet: Pulwama Youth Battles It All
GK Photo

On Monday, when critically injured Muhammad Ashraf, the 28 year old youth from Romhoo in Pulwama was brought to SMHS Hospital, it was a Déjà vu for his companions who accompanied him. 

This youth who was injured by a volley of pellets on Monday afternoon had been admitted in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of this hospital in August for a bullet injury in chest.

Doctors said that Ashraf has developed lung contusions due to internal bleeding and air in his chest cavity once more. "The wound from his previous (bullet) injury is not fully healed. And there are numerous pellets in his chest cavity," a doctor treating him said. "As a result," doctors said, "he has bleeding that is pressing his lungs."

Lying on his bed in Ward 16 of the hospital, Ashraf has a chest tube inserted to drain the fluids in his pleural cavity. Over two months ago, on August 24, when he was in Ward 17 (ICU) of the hospital, he had a similar tube to drain the blood from his chest spaces.

His right eye has vitreous hemorrhage due to the pellet injuries and his left eye has been spared by a few millimeters as pellets have hit it just outside the eye ball on the inner corner near nose.

"I can see nothing if I close my left eye," he said. Doctors said tha primary repair of his eye had been done and it needed time before they 'work' on it again.

"I had not recovered fully from that bullet injury. I was still recuperating and was yet to resume any physical activity," Ashraf said. His friends, attending to him at the hospital said that his right shoulder had become 'stiff' after the previous injury and Ashraf could barely move his right arm. "Now his left arm is badly injured," they pull up sleeves of his shirt to reveal pellet injuries and bruises, allegedly from a beating.

Ashraf contested that he was part of any protests when he was injured. "I am not in that condition and had fled my home to hide on a hillock Lidregan where we hide our cars from wrath of forces," Ashraf said. Reportedly, as forces chased youth who were clashing in the village, they fled through the hillock where Ashraf was trying to save himself. "They (the youth) ran away, I could not run and was caught, beaten and fired upon," he alleged.

The 28 year old graduate said the past couple of months had been 'very tough' for him and his family. The family reportedly had no income and it was only through support of a few relatives, friends and Bait-ul-Maal (Community Fund) that it was able to meet the expenses of Ashraf's treatment.

However, before the injury, Ashraf was a hardworking, self-sustained man. "I was a laborer and worked hard to support from my family," Ashraf, whose father had died in 2005, when he was in Class 10, said. "I left my studies when my father died as my siblings were very young and there was no one to earn for the family," he narrates.

Later, Ashraf resumed studies, graduated from Degree College Pulwama, and supported his three sisters and the youngest of the siblings, a brother to study. "My two sisters are graduates. My brother is pursuing graduation," Ashraf says with an air of achievement.

Although Ashraf has been injured twice by security forces, he himself aspired to be in police. "I applied four times in JK Police service, twice in Railway Police and even in JAKLI (J&K Light Infantry) but to no benefit," he said. "I completed graduation in 2015 and hoped to get a decent job to help my family live a better life, give my mother a better living," he says, his tone saddening.

Ashraf says more than the pain due to his injuries, the worry of his family was causing 'mental pain'. "What will I do now? They all looked upto me for support. I am the eldest. I have the responsibility," he says, almost to himself.

Back home, his friends said, Ashraf's sisters are praying for his speedy recovery. "They are traumatized. We have not told anyone about his eye," Aijaz, a friend of Ashraf said.

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