Srinagar: On May 27, Sabzar Ahmed Bhat, a Hizb-ul Mujahideen Commander was killed in an encounter at Tral in Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir. About 36 kilometres away from Tral, 17-year-old Sameer Ahmad Bhat was allegedly fired upon by the Central Reserve Police Force near his school in Mattan, Anantnag, after Sabzar’s killing had triggered protests there.
It has been eighteen long days since Sameer last spoke. He has been lying on a ventilator in Ward 17 of Shri Maharja Hari Singh (SMHS) Hospital’s Surgical Intensive Care Unit. His family has so far spent over a lakh rupees on his treatment. At present, his medicine costs them at least four thousand rupees per day, an amount unaffordable for his father, the lone bread earner of the family.
The doctors who treated Sameer had told the family that Sameer’s skull was fractured on the backside. The injury was so bad that the pieces of his skull had penetrated through his brains making him prone to brain haemorrhages. He is in a critical condition. Now, the doctors either choose silence or console the family when they ask them, ‘Is he going to survive’.
Sameer’s parents Bashir Ahmad Bhat and Nazneena have been sent back to their home in Kulchohar village, Mattan by their relatives. Their home is packed with guests including his aunts, uncles, other relatives and neighbours.
Sameer is the lone son of the family. His sisters who are pursuing their education from Kashmir University and Utrasu College are waiting for their brother to return home.
Meanwhile, three young men, who look exhausted, spend hours sitting outside Ward 17, waiting for news or a command to buy more medicine. They are his cousins.
Talking about what had happened on May 27 and seeking assurance from other cousins, Suhail Ahmad Wani, Sameer’s cousin told FreePress Kashmir that he had left home like he usually would. The cricket lover was off to his school when the news about an encounter that had been going on in Tral had spread.
In a jiffy, the students of his School, Mattan Higher Secondary, had started to raise anti-India and pro-freedom slogans in the school premises. According to Suhail and the other family members, Sameer would be afraid of protests and he would not participate in stone-pelting. He had tried to run away, but he did not know that he was moving closer to receive a death blow that has kept him hanging between life and death since then.
“He is a responsible boy. I remember what he would tell us. He wanted to do a job to raise enough money to help his sisters with their education,” Suhail said.
“But, that day changed everything. He was at his school and protests had taken place. He and some other boys had tried to escape from the backside of the school. He had not dared to go out via the main gate,” Suhail recalled.
He further added that after getting hit, he was rushed to Mattan hospital, referred to Anantnag and then finally to SMHS.
“Boys told us that three CRPF men were there and they fired at him. It has hit him on the left side of his head. He had collapsed then and there. The boys had picked him up and taken him to the Mattan Hospital where from he was referred to the Anantnag Hospital. Now he is here at SMHS since then,” said Suhail adding that Sameer’s school has declared holidays for about 12 days now and whenever they had tried to open it, students had protested.
He also said that Sameer’s father is a carpenter and earns around Rs 300 per day and approximately Rs 9000 per month. However, since Sameer’s severe condition, he had to spend a hefty amount on his treatment.
“On the first day, his treatment required around 26 thousand rupees. Since then, on a daily basis, it requires not less than four thousand rupees per day. His father cannot afford it,” Suhail stressed.
“He was financially helped by his relatives and a neighbour Mushtaq Ahmad who works with the CRPF. He gave One lakh rupees for Sameer’s treatment,” he added.
However, nothing can be said about his condition as of now. If he survives, he is going to need hefty amount of money to get his treatment done. A meagre income of Rs 300 per day and some rice yield from a canal land won’t be enough.
While Sameer continues to lie on the ventilator, his family stays helpless, holding on to the faith that “God will make a way for him to come back.”