Rising toll from unexploded shells

  • MAJID MAQBOOL
  • Publish Date: Feb 13 2018 2:33AM
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  • Updated Date: Feb 13 2018 2:33AM
Rising toll from unexploded shells

The encounter site in Chaigund, Shopian, in which two local militants were killed. Musharaf Fayaz, 10, (inset pic) died after a shell he’d picked up from the debris later exploded in his home

 

The encounter sites, which are not cleared and scanned properly after the encounters end, are proving to be deathtraps for locals, especially children

 

Musharaf Fayaz Najar was studying in 6th standard in a local school here in Darmdoor village of Shopian. He would have turned 10 on March 10 next month. There was an encounter in the nearby Chaigund village on January 24. The house was reduced to rubble. Like other people from surrounding areas, Musharaf had also gone there with other kids and teens. He’d picked up a shell from the encounter site and brought it home. He was playing with the shell along with other kids just outside his home.  He didn’t know what he had picked. We were not here. Then the shell had exploded in his hands when he was playing with it. His arms were badly injured. He had injuries in his head and face. The impact of the shell had badly injured his left hand and both his eyes and face.

People here rushed him to the district hospital in Pulwama and from there he was referred to SKIMS, where we found him in an unconscious state. He was put on a ventilator and kept in the ICU ward for eight days. At around 12.55 pm on the night of February 1, Musharaf lost his battle for life.

His parents are inconsolable since then. They are not in a condition to talk about him. Musharaf’s younger sister was playing with him and somehow survived without injuries that day. She had taken a cap from his brother that day before he was rushed to the hospital. She’s doesn’t want to part with it even now. She wants to know when her brother will return home. She wants to return the cap to him herself.

Look at his pictures (shows some recent photos of Musharaf saved on mobile phones. In one photo, his younger cousin sister is in his lap. Another photo shows him in his school uniform. In another photo, he’s seen with another kid). We saw our innocent kid suddenly die and leave us like that…. It’s difficult to come to terms with his loss.

He was a known face in the village and in his school for being a good orator. He was also good in his studies. After his death, no one from the government visited us. Recently we got a phone call from the DCs’ office, asking us to go there with his death certificate for release of some compensation money.  But we don’t want any money. We lost our young boy. They can’t bring him back now. I can even go to their office and tell them that we don’t want it. But we want those responsible for his death should be brought to book.

If there were unexploded shells near the encounter site, why didn’t the army and the police check the site properly before leaving? Everyone knows people visit the site after such encounters end. Why did they not check and scan the site properly? Had they done that, perhaps our boy would have been alive today.

He was born on Thursday, he was injured on a Thursday and he died on a Thursday... We don’t know how we are going to live without him around.

 

(AS TOLD TO MAJID MAQBOOL BY MUSHARAF’S UNCLE, MUHAMMAD ALTAF NAJAR)

 

 

August, 2017: Danish Ahmad Khanday, 17, was injured when a shell went off near an encounter site in Bamnloo, Pulwama. A laborer was injured in the same month when a shell exploded inside Jammu and Kashmir Entrepreneurship Development Institute (EDI) complex which was the site of an encounter a year ago.

 

July, 2017:  Two youth, aged 20 and 22, were critically injured in Keller, south Kashmir, when an unexploded shell went off as people were clearing the debris of a residential house blasted during an encounter between militants and army in which three Hizb militants were killed.

 

August, 2015: Two brothers, Bilal Ahmed Reshi(10) and Shakir Ahmad Reshi (12) were killed after an unexploded shell went off on a hillock near Sainik School Mansbal in district Ganderbal.

 

September, 2015: Junaid Ahmad Dar, 11, was killed and his mother injured when he was fiddling with a shell in Ladoora, Handwara. Junaid had picked an explosive device from a recent encounter site in the area.

 

July, 2011: Adil Yusuf, 17, and Obaid Yusuf, 9, died when a grenade exploded near the encounter site in Rathsuna, Tral.

 

February, 2011: Muskaan, a four-year-old girl, lost her life in Maloora area of Srinagar when an explosive device went off at her residence. Her siblings, Noor Mohammad and sister Bisma, 9, had died a day earlier in the same explosion. A year ago, three LeT militants were killed by the army in an encounter in the same area.