Bond and Bones

Clashes and counter-clashes that gripped valley after Burhan Wani’s killing on July 8 have left a trail of withering agony behind. A Sangam boy who broke his bones for his bond is apparently the face of that agony, reports Saima Bhat

An injured boy admitted in the Bones & Joints Hospital Srinagar

An injured boy admitted in the Bones & Joints Hospital Srinagar

Withering in pain, a Class 10 student, Rouf, is trying hard to hide his tears on bed number 21 of ward 5 in Kashmir’s lone orthopaedic tertiary care, Bone and joint Hospital in Srinagar. His left leg has been plastered. His hospital file reads that his bow, leg and feet have been fractured, except for his knee bone.

The 16-year-old boy fakes confidence. With those welled-up eyes, he suppresses a smile. He believes he is going to be fine soon. But his medical treatment suggests that the teenager’s hospital stay might prolong—much to his dismay, disbelief.

He was admitted in the hospital on July 14 — the day when he along with his three friends was sitting on a shopfront near Sangam bridge in south Kashmir. It was a tense day.

“A peaceful procession was going on from one side and we, friends were witnessing it from a distance,” Rouf still trying to stay firm amid shooting pain says. “And then, suddenly, a tavera car came into scene. They were driving very fast but we recognised STF men in plain clothes, who were boarding the vehicle. We picked some stones and started pelting on tavera.” The act shortly had its pitfalls.

The vehicle stopped and STF men inside came out. They chased the boys and caught hold of two of them. Rouf says one of his friends was thrown directly into the river Jhelum — about 40 feet down from Sangam bridge. He was later rescued by locals. He survived. But Rouf caught by four personnel—two by arms and two by legs—was thrown down, too. But unluckily, he was thrown on the shore of river. His bones crashed upon landing.

“I remember I was in deep pain when I opened my eyes in a district hospital,” Rouf says. “I couldn’t move my leg. I couldn’t even feel it.” After necessary first aid, he was referred to Srinagar’s Bone and Joint hospital, where doctors are planning to go for multiple surgeries to assemble his scattered, fractured bones.

Doctors treating Rouf say that, so far, only plaster has been put on his leg. “We are planning to go for his surgery, which is not an easy one,” a doctor treating him says. “We have to first assemble broken pieces of his bones and then stitch them back with iron nails, rods and plates so that they can heal in a proper shape.”

Currently, Rouf is semi-paraplegic, the doctor says. “It will take him more than a year to be able to stand. Small bones in his heel are totally scattered. It is completely broken.”

Hailing from Sangam, Rouf is the youngest among his three siblings. He is accompanied by his friends in the hospital. “My father and elder three brothers are labourers by profession,” he says, “so I prefer them to be home.”

The boy is hopeful to recover soon. But his condition looks pathetically painful. His parched lips have developed a white dry layer. A constellation of black holes around his eye further makes his plight pitiable. But despite that, he says, he wants to continue protest. Hearing that breaks his friends into a deep smile. Perhaps they smile both at his doggedness and Achilles’ heel. They are yet to tell him that he is going to be bedridden for long time.

=Before July 14 incident landing him in the hospital, Rouf says, he participated in all protest marches in his area post-Burhan killing.

“As soon as the death of Burhan started doing rounds, I went straight away to his home, where I reached at around 2am. Burhan’s body reached there at 3am. I wanted to be present in his funeral prayers. I wished to be there anyhow. And then I participated in five prayers for him.”

As people were swelling in Tral, Rouf says, his and his friends decided to leave, so that all of Burhan’s admirers could pray for him.

“I reached home at 2pm on July 09 and since then I was protesting over his mysterious killing.”

(Name of the patient has been changed.)

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