Mohammad Asif a 15 year old boy who was seriously injured in an explosion at Tosamaidan recently has been disabled for life. He suffered a major brain injury. A metal splinter had pierced through his skull damaging his brain during the blast. After being admitted in Sher i Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS), Srinagar for more than 3 weeks, Asif was discharged a few days back. Neurosurgeons who operated upon Asif have told the family that they have no idea if the young boy could ever walk or talk? Asif is almost half dead who keeps looking at his family members throughout the day without uttering even a single word. Asif’s helplessness and having been incapacitated and disabled agonizises his family. His entire family is in constant distress and they see Asif’s future very dark in spite of the fact that Asif was the brightest among seven siblings. When I visited the family recently I was told that Asif had a techie mind. He would always work with electronic goods and batteries, make things like water pumping machines, small toy airplanes etc. His mother told me: “Asif was a little engineer and we were proud of him “. His brother in law Mohammad Maqbool said the entire family was proud of Asif’s understanding of things and his intellect at such a tender age. The economically weak family living in a modest house at Dachan Beerwah had pinned all hopes on Asif, thinking he would grow up , earn name and fame not only for his family but for the entire village. The incident of May 26th 2020 has shattered the dreams of family and Asif’s future seems to be bleak.
Asif’s family is in a state of shock but the Government seems totally unmoved. Had Asif been injured in a road accident or had fallen down from a tree, the family, media, local residents of Beerwah or activists would not have complained, but Asif has been turned disable because of wrong policies and reckless attitude of the Government. They are very much responsible for making Asif permanently disable. Ironically not even a single statement has come from the Government on the incident till date except one on June 17th wherein Lt Governor announced financial assistance of Rs 1 lakh in favour of Asif. Will Rs 1 lakh get back Asif’s dreams ? Will this meager amount give Asif a lifelong support ? Authorities at the helm including the Deputy Commissioner Budgam have not even issued a statement or assured people to clear live ammunition and ordnance from Tosamaidan. No senior officer from District Administration Budgam except Tehsildar Beerwah paid a visit to Asif’s home or hospital ? Tehsildar Beerwah came with some financial assistance of Rs 10,000 after almost 10 days of incident. When there was an outcry on social media Rs 50,000 were transferred by Govt into the account of victim’s father Ghulam Hassan Wani. Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC) Budgam who also holds charge of CEO Tosamaidan Development Authority, also didn’t come to see Asif in hospital or his family. He has not visited the site of the incident, I have been told. Office of Sub Divisional Magistrate (SDM) Beerwah is mere 5 kms from Asif’s village, he too failed to visit Asif’s home. Wasn’t it a moral duty of all these officials to come and console the family ? Police have been registering FIR’s in connection with such blasts, deaths and injuries but what has happened in old cases ? Has anybody been held guilty ? Has anybody been prosecuted ? The answer is NO. Irony is that not even financial help has been provided to the victims of the Tosamaidan blasts. If people dying in militancy related incidents are provided financial help, and Government jobs given to next of their kin , why has this not been done in case of Tosamaidan blast victims ? When civil administration has been so casual in its approach and failed to deliver on ground, how can one complain against the Army for not coming to console the poor family ?
On July 11th 2016 the case titled Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat V/S Union of India was disposed off by National Green Tribunal (NGT) directing Ministry of Defence (MoD) to clear Tosamaidan field of all waste material and unexploded shells by 10th August 2016. MoD had earlier said through a written affidavit that Tosamaidan was cleared of all unexploded material in 2014 under operation Fallah. After that operation some more explosions took place. In August 2018 a young man Wajid Bashir of Zogoo village got killed and some injured. The then Deputy Commissioner Budgam had told the media that a fresh clean-up drive would be taken up in Tosamaidan to check for any explosive devices in the area, but that drive was never undertaken until there was another explosion on May 26th this year. This is the right time to sanitize the entire meadow. After October it won’t be possible as the area receives heavy snowfall. Unfortunate thing is that our political leaders too have chosen to remain tight lipped on the issue. I am sure they won’t be slapped with a PSA by asking Govt to clear the meadow from unexploded shells and giving justice to victims ? It is the moral obligation of Govt to provide Asif a lifelong financial support plus giving a Government job to one of his close relatives. Other victims of Tosamaidan should also be compensated financially and Govt jobs given to close relatives of the deceased.
Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat is Founder & Chairman of J&K RTI Movement