It was September 18 of 2010, when Aamir Kabir, a teenager from North Kashmir’s Baramullah district, accompanied his mother to a local hospital as she had developed complicacies in her stomach.
The situation across the valley was very tense as scores of young boys were killed for ‘raising their voice’ against the Indian rule in Kashmir. Tempers were running high in Baramullah and the adjoining areas.
Aamir went out of the hospital to get medicines for his mother. He went to medical shop via Azad Gunj Bridge, where there was a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and Policemen patrolling there. As soon as he stepped on the bridge, dozens of pellets were fired by CRPF and police.
He fell on the ground, unconscious and injured. Few of the stone throwing boys lifted Aamir and took him to a Srinagar hospital. His mother forgot her own pain. She sobbed, wept and cursed herself for asking her son to buy her medicine.
Aamir survived the ‘murderous assault’ but paid huge cost. He lost his eyesight for ever and with that lost of vision the ambition of becoming an artist was also extinguished. The nightmare of darkness starts haunting him forever.
From All Indian Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) to every leading hospital in the state, we went everywhere hoping against the hope but nothing happened,” the sobbing mother of Aamir, Jahanara Begum says.
A poverty ridden family of Aamir, where only father is a bread owner who is roadside vendor, has to manage the money by selling all the property what they were possessing in terms of land and her mother’s jewelry, still that couldn’t make up for his treatment and then they have to borrow money from relatives and neighbors.
Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had pledged that government would bear the medical expenses, but that never happened.
Two years later, the life for the teenager changed forever. It was difficult for him to reconcile with the abrupt entry into the life of darkness. Slowly, he did found ways to accept the reality.
He has found refuge in religion as he spots a beard and spends much of his time listening to recitation of Quran and world renowned Islamic orator of Tariq Jameel. He was found of singing and music, however, the recitation of Quran has taken over his passion from the past.
“Now my dreams lay shattered. I only pray now and listen to the religious talks. I draw my strength from Allah. He (God) has been the biggest support which keeps me going.” Aamir says.
Amir is not alone. He is one of the scores of other people who have remained the invisible victims of the conflict in Kashmir. Those victims, who never made it to the list of killed, but are living the life of dead and helplessness.
The Kashmir Coalition of Civil Societies, who collated the number of injured in the civil unrest of 2010, say 2500 people were injured apart from 120 youth who lost their lives during the bloody summers of 2010.
Many of the injured youth have recovered now while many are impaired for life, but for Aamir, he is reduced to a semi-lit room, shabby wooden shelves and scary dark life.