Wednesday, July 8, 2009

He went to fight militants, but got injured by 'own brothers'

Civilian protestors render him partly blind

He would have been ‘proud’ if he was hit by an ‘enemy bullet’, but CRPF jawan Pradip Basumatary is pained that he has been rendered partially blind by his compatriots -- civilian protestors in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).

"I never imagined that I would be injured at the hands of my own brothers," said the 26-year-old, lying in a ward in the AIIMS here. He suffered injuries on his left eye after being hit by a stone during a protest demonstration in Srinagar.

"I would have been proud if I was hit by an enemy bullet or injured in counter-insurgency operation. I joined the force to take on militants, but now I am sad that I have been left partially blind at the hands of civilians," he said.

Basumatary, posted with the 53 battalion of CRPF, is one among the many who have been injured in recent clashes in Jammu and Kashmir while providing assistance to local police.

"I cannot see with my left eye after the incident. Doctors have conducted a CT Scan. They are yet to tell me about the condition of my eye and further treatment," he said.

The CRPF has complained that attempts were being made to target its personnel during civilian protests and blamed anti-national elements for this.

Basumatary said many jawans like him have become victims of civilian clashes in Srinagar in the recent past. "I know many who have had injuries in the head, eye, hands and legs," he said.

Basumatary has been posted to Srinagar since 2006 and was on his usual duty when the incident occurred.

"Every Friday, we assist the police in guarding against any untoward incidents that might take place after the namaz is over in the Masjids," he said.

On July 3, he was in Srinagar for guard duty for the congregations at three different Masjids there.

"We started at 12 in the afternoon and after completing duty at two Masjids, we moved to Soura, where Namaz was almost over," he said.

"But then clashes broke out. We were trying to control the crowd when someone threw a stone that hit my eye hard. I fainted there and regained consciousness at the Base hospital of the Army there," he said.

There are over 70 battalions of CRPF in Jammu and Kashmir while the state police strength is not even one-third of it.

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has said that before considering any move to withdraw the CRPF from Jammu and Kashmir, the state police force has to be augmented in numbers, equipment and levels of training.