- Kashmir completes 120 days of unrest
- Teenager’s death triggers clashes
- Police tortured and poisoned me: Qaiser told mother before his death
- Dozens injured as Class 10 student’s funeral procession faces teargas, pellets
- He had consumed poisonous substance, investigation underway: Police
At least 30 persons were injured after government forces fired teargas shells and pellets on a funeral procession of a 16-year-old boy Qaiser Hameed Sofi who died at SKIMS Soura Friday night.
Qaiser, a resident of Doud Mohalla Shalimar, had gone missing on October 27, and was found lying unconscious in a drain next day. He was rushed to SKIMS Soura where he was in coma for some days and lost battle of his life around 10 PM on Friday night.
Qaiser’s body was taken to his ancestral home at Ganderpora Safakadal around 11:30 PM. “On Saturday morning as his body was being prepared for funeral, government forces first resorted to aerial firing and then fired tear smoke canisters and pellets on mourners causing injuries to scores of people including some females,” local news agency CNS reported.
SMHS Hospital Srinagar received over half a dozen injured civilians from the area. “We are in the process of treating the injured people who have pellet injuries in legs and abdomen,” a doctor said.
The mourners according to reports marched towards Martyrs Graveyard Eidgah amid intense teargas shelling. “Soon hundreds of people came out on protests and clashes erupted,” an eyewitness said, adding, “The forces ransacked private property in Sekidafar, Ganderpora and adjoining localities.”
Qaiser was finally laid to rest at around 10:30 AM at Martyrs Graveyard.
Son of an artisan, Qaiser was a class tenth student of Meerak Shah School Shalimar.
“The day he went missing, there was a scheduled Muharram procession barred by authorities,” Ayash, his cousin, told CNS. “There was tension in the area and people were chased by forces many a times.” He said Qaiser was seen last time around 12:30 PM on Thursday before he went missing.
“We looked for him everywhere but he was found nowhere,” he said.
Finally, Qaiser’s family approached Nishat Police Station and then Police Station Harwan where cops denied that they had arrested him.
“We were told to come again on Friday with Qaiser’s photo,” Ayash said. On October 28 around 4 PM Qaiser’s family received a call.
“The caller told Qaiser’s father that his son was near CIE Complex, Shalimar. They rushed to the spot and saw some youth taking Qaiser to hospital.
“Qaiser was lying in a drain,” Abdul Hameed Sofi, his father said. “We rushed him to SKIMS Soura where he was administered oxygen and we changed his clothes.”
“Qaiser recovered after some time on Friday evening,” Sofi said. “He opened his eyes and told his mother: “I was arrested by forces and given poison before they beat me ruthlessly.” However, police denied the allegations.
Sofi said Qaiser was lying on a bed in Casualty Ward of SKIMS and almost 20 persons including doctors are witness to what Qaiser said.
Ayash said his body including chest, hands and legs had marks of injuries—a claim confirmed by doctors at SKIMS Soura. “Poison had circulated all over his body,” Ayash said quoting doctors. “He had suffered kidney failure as well.”
“One son of Sofi was admitted in the same hospital for months together last year,” Ayash said.
Sofi family migrated to Shalimar a few years ago. They are natives of Ganderpora, Safakadal. Quoting medical history of the slain youth, doctors at SKIMS Soura said, “Qaiser’s case was that of poison as well as assault.”
“After stomach wash, we sent samples to FSL and are waiting for the report. He had injury marks on his body and his brain was damaged as well. It was not a simple case of poisoning.”
Meanwhile, a police spokesman said an investigation is underway into the case registered under section 309 Ranbir Penal Code (attempt to suicide).
“Police is investigating the case registered under section 309 RPC regarding a boy who was found lying near CIE complex Shalimar with froth oozing from his mouth and succumbed at SKIMS, Soura last evening,” the spokesman said.
He said Qaiser was reportedly missing from his house since October 27.
“On the next day, his father received a call from a person who identified himself as a private guard working at the CIE complex, Shalimar stating that his son is lying near the CIE complex with some froth oozing from his mouth.
“On this information, a police party of police station Nishat along with the relatives of the deceased rushed to the spot and shifted him to SKIMS hospital for treatment.
“The doctors at SKIMS performed his stomach wash and sample was set to FSL for analysis to ascertain the nature of the poisonous substance he had consumed,” the spokesman said.
As per the doctors, the spokesman said, the patient had a history of epilepsy.
Pertinently, the case of Qaiser was unknown until lately freed Mirwaiz Umar Farooq tweeted on Oct 31: “Qaiser Sofi, a 16-year-old student of Mirak Shah School, beaten, tortured & forcibly fed a germicide called “Neva” by armed forces battling for his life at SKIMS, Soura where he is on a ventilator. Such cruelty and barbarity find few parallels in today’s age.”
He also issued a detailed statement over the incident.
Meanwhile, normal life in the valley remained affected for the 120th consecutive day. While most of the shops, business establishments and fuel stations across Kashmir were shut, some were open in few areas in Civil Lines and outskirts of the summer capital Srinagar.
The separatists, who are spearheading the ongoing agitation in Kashmir, have been issuing weekly protest calendars since Hizbul militant Burhan Wani’s killing in an encounter on July 8. The separatists have extended the strike till November 10.
As many as 90 people, including two cops, have been killed and several thousand others injured in the ongoing unrest in the Valley.
Meanwhile, as the women beat their chest and sing eulogies to mourn the killing of Qaiser Hameed Sofi, a 16-year-old boy poisoned and tortured as the family alleges by the State Task Force, a thud from outside makes everyone silent. The wailing women, who are coughing their lungs out, bury their heads in their chest to escape the pungent smell of the PAVA shell.
“We are not even allowed to mourn. The government forces injured dozens of people who were shouldering the coffin of my son. They smashed the window panes and injured my brother and sister. Please write this in your newspaper. Write that the people of Kashmir are in living in pain,” they told this reporter.
“See this PAVA shell also gave you a coughing fit. Now you can emphasize with us. A mother’s throat has been choked and she is not allowed to wail the loss of his son. Khudaya yi kus azaab (God! What is this agony),” says Qaiser’s mother, Mehmooda Akhter.
As the smoke of the PAVA shell settles, Mehmooda, who lives in Shalimar and is mourning the death of his son at his ancestral home at Ganderpora, Eidgah says, “We left this place and shifted to Shalimar because I didn’t want my children to get labeled as stone pelters and get killed. But see they still killed my son.”
On October 25, Mehmooda recalls, “Qaiser was watching television, but suddenly the electricity got snapped at 11 am and he went out. I thought he had gone out to buy biscuit for tea which he usually does at this time. I poured tea in the cups and was waiting for him, but when after two hours he didn’t come, I started looking around.”
At 1 in the afternoon when Qaiser didn’t turn up, the bereaved mother says, “I went out and started asking the shopkeepers. And they told me he was here watching the Muharram procession.”
“They told me STF men arrested four people and covered their faces but they were not sure whether Qaiser was among them.”
Qaiser’s elder brother, Ishfaq Sofi, who is battling with cancer says, “When he didn’t come home till late in the evening, we went to Police station Harwan and asked them about Qaiser. But they swore by God and said we have not arrested anybody by this name and made us to leave.”
Mehbooba spent the whole night crying, wondering where her son, who had kept the books on refrigerator to study, could have gone. He was preparing for his 10th standard exams.
The next day I along with my family members went to Police Station Nishat and asked them to write a missing report of my son. “But they refused to do so. They told us that Qaiser had picked up gun and had gone for training. I would have believed their words, but I knew Qaiser never picked a stone. Infact he had never raised a slogan.”
“Till 4 in the evening, SHO Nishat didn’t agree on writing a missing report and asked us to wait. But in the mean time as we were having a discussion with them, an acquaintance called my husband and asked us to reach immediately near CIE complex Shalimar.”
“As we rushed, we saw Qaiser lying near a main hole. Froth was coming out of his mouth. We immediately rushed him to SKIMS. On way to hospital Qaiser told me, ‘Mother the police at Harwan poisoned me. They tortured my arms and chest with iron and also made holes in my hands with pliers they also tortured my private parts. He gave similar statements in SKIMS also.”
For 10 days Qaiser was kept on ventilator support in SKIMS and yesterday at 10 pm the body was handed over to family.
While giving the burial bath to Qaiser, the blood was coming out of his mouth with froth all over his lips. His arms, chest, neck and back had visible marks of torture.
“I want to know what was my son’s fault…why has he been killed so brutally? There has not been a day in my life when I have eaten without my son. Now what will I do without Qaiser. Isn’t this barbaric?” Mehmooda says while resting her head on the shoulder of a relative.
As the mourners leave for home through lanes and by-lanes to escape the violent forces, a thud outside the door leaves everyone in coughing fit and makes them to take refuge in each other’s arms.