Victims and eyewitnesses claim police personnel assaulted civilians, raided villages

As 57-year-old Fatima battles for life at the Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences in Jammu and Kashmir, a vast area in the State is seething in a whirl of sectarian strife. Emissaries of separatists such as Yasin Malik and Syed Ali Shah Geelani of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front have been visiting locals at the ecologically devastated village of Dadina in Budgam district, who are seeking Central forces protect them from “police atrocities”.

Fatima was struck on the head with the butt of a gun by a policeman during a clash between residents of Dadina and Babagh villages on Tuesday.

“A clash was going on half-a-mile away across our village. Fatima and I were among a group of 50 women at the safest point on the main road. Suddenly, we spotted a police convoy cavalcade. We felt secure as we thought they were coming to our rescue. We got up to seek their support but they jumped out and began shouting and abusing us. As we sensed their aggression, we [fled] in panic. They fired shells and chased us like beasts. A tall policeman struck Fatima’s head forcefully with the butt of his gun. She [collapsed instantly],” said Fatima’s namesake cousin, narrating the events to Superintendent of Police Mohammad Irshad.

Many of the women and some male eyewitnesses identified a former Station House Officer of Budgam and a head constable from a neighbouring village as the men who went on a rampage.

“Even after their brutal attack on the women, they raided our villages, smashed doors and windows and ransacked houses selectively,” said Syed Nasir. He demanded that an attempt-to-murder case be filed against the police officials identified by eyewitnesses.

Among half-a-dozen women being treated for injuries and fractures is 30-year-old Nusrat.

She struggles to give an account, her arm and chin fractured: “Four policemen pounced on the two of us. They broke our bones with their AK-47 rifles and kicked us down the height.” Nusrat could not speak further. Her neighbour Ayina added: “Even after she and her mother took shelter in a bathroom, policemen rammed slammed their door with stones. We perceived their intension and raised a hue and cry till they withdrew and began vandalising other houses”.

On her admission at SKIMS for head trauma on July 23, Fatima’s CT scan report observed: “Right frontal evolving contusion. Right parietal sub-arachnoid haemorrhage and left parietal contusion with left temporal bone fracture”.

Repeated on July 24, her CT scan report noted: “Increase in right fronto-temporal contusion with developing mass effect and midline shift.” She has been continuously in coma.

Fatima practically dead, says doctor

Doctors said the vital parameter of the Glasgow Coma Scale was not relevant after the patient was on ventilator. They nevertheless revealed that her GCS was at the lowest point on the linear scale of 3 to 15. “That simply means death. Only a miracle could work,” said a doctor.

“She is already dead. Government just wants Friday to pass,” said an official.

In-charge Medical Superintendent at SKIMS Farooq Jan said Fatima was on double life-support. He described her condition as “extremely critical” but said that the doctors were still planning a surgical procedure.