January 07, 2011

Adil Ramzan Sheikh was Dragged and Killed

In a summer that saw 100 people dead in an equal number of days, more than 2000 injured, inhumane restrictions on movement of people, and a gagged media, many stories went unreported. Like that of Adil Ramazan Sheikh, a teenager hailing from Palhalan Pattan, who was allegedly pulled out from a hospital bed and executed at the hospital gates.

In the myriad tragedies that hit Kashmir this year, Adil’s killing was just one. Just one of 125. Despite the fact that the circumstances of his death stood out, his story was lost in the heap of events. Rather than becoming the biggest story of the year, it remained an under reported one. No investigation was convened to look into the circumstances of his killing.

On July 30, the volatile Pattan town heated up, with the news of two people having been killed in police firing earlier in the day in Sopore. Protestors gathered on the highway after Friday prayers and engaged police and paramilitary in stone pelting clashes. Thirteen-year-old Adil could hear the sound of teargas and gunfire at his home in Palhalan, some two kilometers from the spot.

Adil’s father Muhammad Ramazan Sheikh still remembers the sequence of events that followed.

“We were at home, when we heard the gunfire and teargas at around 3pm. We came to know that demonstrations are going on at Pattan market. Many people from the village rushed to join in,” says Sheikh who also rushed toward the spot along with his son.

The duo and other people from the village were stopped at the highway, a mile short of the hotspot.

“As people from this side were stopped at the junction, they began to raise slogans there. Adil was with me. After a while, he and a few kids, taking the advantage of their age, sneaked through the police barrier to join the protestors in the market,” Sheikh said.

Sheikh returned home after some time. At 5.30 pm, he received a call on his cell phone.

“It was a doctor calling from Hospital (Sub District Hospital Pattan). He told me that my son is injured and that I should come to hospital,” Sheikh recalls.
Sheikh rushes towards the highway again. By now, he finds that posse of paramilitary at the junction has gained strength. He is not allowed to move towards hospital. He waits.

What Sheikh comes to know later, is that after reaching the market, Adil and his friends had apparently been jeering at some paramilitary men.

Adil is fired upon and falls injured. His friends try to pick him up but they are chased away.

“They (friends) had not been able to pick him up themselves, so they requested some women standing there to get Adil towards them. The women did, and Adil was taken to the hospital,” said Sheikh.

The Sub District Hospital Pattan is just a few paces from the main market. It has two gates, one on front side the other on back side. The two gates open into two different alleys, both of which lead to the highway at Pattan market.

The clashes in the town that day saw the hospital getting flooded with injured, as well as with people trying to save themselves the wrath of troopers.

Around 6pm Sheikh was still at the crowded junction, hoping to find a way to reach the hospital. He gets another call.

“It was the doctor again. He told me that CRPF had raided the hospital and were beating everybody there. They (staff) were hiding, he told me,” said Sheikh.

The caller, whom Sheikh doesn’t want to name, tells him that he doesn’t know about the status of his son, for now. Sheikh grows impatient, but cannot break through the police cordon. He waits. A few minutes later he gets another call from the same doctor.

“They have fired on him again. He is dead.” Sheikh is told this time.

A shattered Sheikh is still unable to make it to the hospital, though his priority has changed from seeing his injured son to bringing his body home. After repeated unsuccessful attempts to make it to hospital, he returns home, now waiting for friends and neighbours at the hospital to bring the body home.

There are barely any records of the tumultuous events of the day at the Pattan Hospital. BMO Pattan denied that anyone had been killed in the hospital. But he admitted that paramilitary CRPF raided that hospital that day, beat up patients, attendants, and even some staff. Asked if they had filed any complaint with the police, he replied in negative.

“I only report to my CMO,” he added.

But, despite official denials, almost everybody in the hospital knows the story.

Wishing anonymity, the staff told Kashmir Life that CRPF ran amok in the hospital beating anybody who came in the way.

“They manhandled a female nurse, beat up injured patients, removed their intravenous drips, and pulled off Adil Ramazan from his bed over there,” said a doctor pointing to a far end corner bed in the ward. Adil, he said, had a leg injury, when he was first brought to the hospital.

“After pulling him from his bed, they (CRPF) took him along. He was then fired outside the hospital gate,” he said. In the street, outside the gates, where Adil was killed, a number of protestors convened and brought Adil back to the hospital.

“This time he had been shot in the chest. He was dead already,” the doctor said.

Hospital records, however, do not mention the whole sequence. There is no record of Adil’s admission the first time. It only records him as being admitted with a fatal chest injury, which killed him. There is an error with the date too, in the records, which mention 31 June instead of 30.

A hospital source explained that when the injured boys were being brought to the hospital in the first place, they insisted on getting medical attention without admission slips.

Sheikh and his family had to wait longer for Adil’s body. Many people had assembled at the hospital and were trying to take the body to his home in Palhalan. Witnesses said they were not allowed to move on the main road. After some unsuccessful attempts the protestors took out Adil’s body on a hospital bed, and carried it on their shoulders. They then waded through the rice fields, walking more than six kilometers carrying the body and reached Sheikh’s home by midnight.

The next day newspaper reports, some of which didn’t get his name right said he was killed during clashes in Pattan.

Sheikh says he has never visited the hospital since, not even to get the records, nor has hopes of a police investigation. A fact finding independent team of Indian civil society has demanded an investigation into the circumstances of Adil’s killing. The team comprised of academic Bela Bhatia, advocate Vrinda Grover, journalist Sukumar Muralidharan and activist Ravi Hemadri of The Other Media, described the attack on hospital as a violation of International Humanitarian Law.

“Whatever the truth about the events that led to Adil’s death, there is little question that Pattan hospital on July 30 suffered an attack which by all acknowledged covenants, puts the CRPF and all other elements party to it, under the cloud of a serious crime. This constitutes a clear violation of International Humanitarian Law, and calls for an urgent and impartial investigation”: the team report (KASHMIR LIFE)

and we know what happens to these investigations and probes.

No comments: