Srinagar: Asrar Wani, a 17-year-old boy who was battling for life at the intensive care unit of local Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) after sustaining injuries during a clash between local residents and security forces last month, died in the early hours of Wednesday.
The authorities and the doctors who treated him, however, made contesting claims over the cause of Wani’s death, even as the law and order situation remained tense in downtown Srinagar.
Munir Khan, Additional Director General, Jammu and Kashmir Police, told reporters that Wani died of injuries caused by stone-pelting.
However, doctors who treated Wani confirmed that he died of a shell injury in his head that eventually led to a pulmonary cardiac arrest.
ThePrint was the first to report the case of Wani, one of the initial pellet victims to have sustained severe injuries in the clash between local residents and security forces in the downtown area of Soura following Friday prayers on 6 August. The clashes broke out a day after the Narendra Modi government announced the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir.
Speaking to reporters, Munir Khan said, “No shelling, no pellet injuries. He was hit by a stone and I am sure about it.”
The police officer added, “As far as (his) death is concerned, he was injured on 6 August, when there was stone pelting from 90 feet. Stone-pelters from Soura, Anchar assembled and it had become a major law and order situation. Since that day he had been in hospital. He improved a bit but somehow succumbed (to the injuries).”
Lt Gen K.J.S. Dhillon, 15 Corps commander, too backed Khan. “He was hit by a stone. This makes it fifth civilian death in last 31 days,” said Dhillon.
An SKIMS staff doctor looking after Wani’s case, however, refuted the authorities’ claims.
“The cause of death is the head injury which led to a pulmonary cardiac arrest. A shell had hit his head causing grievous injury. He underwent a surgery and had been on the ventilator for long. He was improving but his condition worsened Tuesday night,” said the doctor who did not wish to be named.
A staff nurse at the ICU had earlier told ThePrint that Wani had sustained pellet injuries on his legs, chest, arms, left eye and face.
‘He was murdered’
ThePrint spoke to Asrar Wani’s uncle who was at Srinagar’s SKIMS to complete the formalities. He said Wani’s death was a “murder”.
“They are shameless to be calling this a death. He was killed. Brutally hit by pellets, his head lobbed by a shell. He was a child. His fault was just that he went to offer the Friday prayers that day,” said Wani’s uncle.
He added, “They have not given us any document, no death certificate… When we asked for his medical reports, they refused to hand it over to us. When we ask them how he died, they keep quiet. Is this fair? We have nothing to say.”
The law and order situation in Srinagar’s downtown area remained tense Wednesday, with people taking to streets in Renawari to pelt the forces with stones.
Locals gathered in the Ellahibagh area, where Asrar Wani stayed with his family, to protest against his death.
The Indian Army, the CRPF and the local police were deployed around Ellahibagh to manage the situation. Concertina wires were placed and people, including this reporter, were stopped from visiting the area that remained out of bounds.