SRINAGAR, August 5: In June this year, a five-year-old kid went with his father to Bijbehara. His father made him sit in his car and left their home in Kulgam.
His father had some work along with his brother at Bijbehara in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district.
At 12:15 pm, on that fateful day, his father disembarked from the car and told his son and brother to remain there since he would be back soon. Few minutes later, a gun fight broke out near their car. When his uncle started the car to run away, he looked at his nephew who was lying in a pool of blood.
“When he was rushed to Bijbehara hospital, doctors declared him dead. A bullet had pierced his body close to his heart,” one of his relatives told news agency (KINS).
This is not an isolated case. There are hundreds of Kashmiri children who are victims of this conflict.
Some have been killed, blinded, while others remain traumatized.
One of the latest was a three-year-old child who witnessed the killing of his grandfather, in north Kashmir’s Sopore area.
Heart-rending images emerged showing how the three-year-old boy was on the body of his dead grandfather.
He and his grandson had left their house to bring their domestic help home from Handwara in north Kashmir.
According to the police, at about 8 am, as CRPF soldiers were disembarking for deployment, they were ambushed by militants, who opened gunfire on them. A CRPF trooper was killed and two more were wounded in the attack.
The family however claimed that he was killed by the CRPF.
“Papa Ko Goli Mari Policewale Ne (A policeman killed grandpa),” the boy says in a video, which has been shared on social media.
Similarly, a 14-year-old boy, got grievously injured when a leftover shell went off in Tosa Maidan, a chain of meadows in central Kashmir’s Budgam district.
He was in the ICU at SKIMS Hospital Srinagar for weeks. Doctors removed a piece of shell from his brain. The family has to spend thousands on medicines.
Spread over an area of 69 square kilometres, Tosa Maidan used to be an artillery firing range for army where unexploded shells have killed at least 65 civilians and maimed many more for years.
The government had leased land to the army in 1964. The army used the meadow as Field Firing Range (FFR) for practicing artillery fire until 2014 when the area was de-notified.
Same year, the army said it had sanitised the entire area in an 83-day-long operation. Still leftover shells are found there thus risking the lives of people especially people residing in its surroundings.
A 12-year-old boy died when a house collapsed after an encounter in Srinagar.
He along with hundreds of people had visited the encounter site after three militants were killed. The house collapsed when an unexploded shell blasted. He along with two more people died when the house collapsed due to the blast.
Children in Kashmir have grown up in the midst of abductions, encounters, bomb blasts, stone pelting and tear-gas shelling. Experts believe that in Kashmir the cycle of violence has affected the psychological level to such extent that behavioural changes in kids are visible.
According to a survey conducted by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), an international medical humanitarian organisation in Jammu and Kashmir in 2015, 45 percent of Kashmir’s population (nearly 1.8 million adults) shows symptoms of significant mental distress.(KINS)