The security forces feel their hands are tied because they have been given strict instructions not to retaliate against protesters. CRPF jawan P Shivaji got trapped in one such stone-pelting incident.
He was injured on 10 July in an attack by the protesters in Bandipora in Kashmir. He was hit with stones in his eyes, due to which he lost his vision. His right eye was operated on in Chennai but the doctors couldn’t save it. The Quint spoke to Shivaji in a CRPF hospital in Lethpura in South Kashmir.
Doctor bol rahe ki Retina chahiye nahi toh yeh aankh kharab ho gaya hai. (The doctor says I need a new retina otherwise my eye won’t work.)
– P Shivaji, CRPF Jawan
Wo jo patharao hua tha Bandipura mein, pehle toh 2-4 log aaye, unko toh bhej diya, phir baad mein 100-200 log ikatha aa gaye. teeno taraf se pathar maar rahe the. 2 taraf se bacha liya lekin ek taraf se pathar lag gaya. (Initially 2-4 people were throwing stones in Bandipura. We sent them away but later 100-200 people came and started throwing stones at us from 3 sides. I was protected from 2 sides but was hit by a stone from the third.)
– P Shivaji, CRPF Jawan
According to the doctors, they have contacted several eye banks for a donor. Over 2 months have passed with no success.
Unlike Shivaji, Arun Kumar was lucky. He too was hit in the right eye in a stone-pelting attack at the CRPF camp in Lethpura. Around 5,000 protesters pelted stones and threw 15-20 petrol bombs, which set the camp on fire.
What did you do after you were hit with the stones?
Chot lagne ke baad mein gir gaya tha, mujhe bunker par chadaya gaya. Mujh kuch nahi dikh raha tha because of blood. I got 6 stitches. (After getting hurt, I fell down and was lifted onto the bunker. I couldn’t see anything because of the blood and got 6 stitches.)
Jab aapko pathar laga toh kya aapko gussa nhi aaya un par? (Did you get angry after getting hurt by the protesters?)
Humare senior officer ne ye aadesh diya hai ki kam se kam bal ka prayog kare. Sabhi lok lathi aur chabri (shield) mein hi the. Kisi ke pass gun nhi tha. (We were under orders to use the minimum force and were only equipped with lathis and shields. No one had a gun.)
Kisi tarah se retaliate kiya aapne? (Did you retaliate in any way?)
Nahi. Yeh sab humare hi bhai hai. Bus yeh bhatak gaye hai. Ho sakta hai kabhi na kabhi sahi raaste mein aa jaye. (No. They are our brothers who have gone astray. It is possible that they might embrace the right path in the future.)
Around 75,000 CRPF jawans are deployed in Kashmir ever since the unrest after Burhan Wani’s death. According to sources, the post-harvest season tension in Kashmir will see a surge.
Both Shivaji and Kumar are admitted in the hospital and are undergoing treatment. Doctors hope to find an eye donor for Shivaji soon to bring back his vision.