03 August, 2021

Not A Place To Breathe: How Tear Gas Poses A Public Health Risk In Kashmir

As with all “non-lethal, or less- lethal weapons”, the doctors say there is some risk of serious permanent injury or death when tear gas is used.

White Haze
Kashmiri students face tear-gassing during a protest
Photograph by Javed Ahmad
Not A Place To Breathe: How Tear Gas Poses A Public Health Risk In Kashmir

Yawar Ahmad Bhat, a 22-year-old of Srinagar’s Maisuma loc­ality, cannot lift his right hand and right leg, and needs help to use the bathroom. And he cannot remember his life before June 30, 2009. That evening a tear-gas shell fired from close quarters hit him in the head. He fell down with blood gushing from the wound and was taken to SKIMS hospital in ­Soura. Two surgeries later, he was discharged on August 1. The depar­tment of neurosurgery had diagnosed his condition as “traumatic SDH with contusion in left parietal region” with 75 per cent disability.

A narrow lane in the interiors of Maisuma leads to the two-room house of Yawar’s father Abdul Rahim Bhat, a motor mechanic. Doctors have said Yawar needs another head surgery. “I don’t know what to do. I can no longer afford his medical expenses,” says Abdul. Yawar, sitting with his two ­sisters and parents in the kitchen, which also serves as the guest room, is trying to say something but cannot. His sisters try to teach him English alphabet these days, but he...

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