Indian officials insisted Asrar Ahmad Khan was killed by a stone, but medical records show he was struck by a tear gas canister and then shot in the face with pellets.
A 17-year-old boy was playing cricket in a Srinagar park when, according to witnesses and his family, a paramilitary convoy made up of eight military vehicles pulled up.
Six of the cars moved on but Indian security forces poured out from the two that remained behind.
“They fired a tear gas canister that hit Asrar’s head” the teenager’s father, Firdous Ahmad Khan told TRT World.
Khan was at a mosque nearby for evening prayers and recalled the events through descriptions given to him by witnesses including Asrar’s friends and cousins who were at the park.
The park is in the middle-class residential locality of Elahi Bagh on the outskirts of Srinagar, the biggest city in Indian administered Kashmir.
Asrar’s friends and cousins, who were at the park on August 6 evening, described the incident as “unprovoked”.
“There was no protest. In fact there never is a protest in our locality,” Adil Ahmad, the teenager’s elder cousin, said.
He added that after he was hit by the canister Asrar was further struck by a hail of shotgun pellets fired by Indian forces.
Firdous Ahmad Khan describes his son Asrar as a well behaved and studious child.
“He was very obedient towards his elders. He never talked in a loud tone,” he said.
For 29 days, Asrar remained in critical condition at the Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS), where doctors treated him for injuries caused by the tear gas canister and shotgun pellets.
On September 3, Asrar died
His death certificate, obtained by TRT World, recorded the death as being due to “pellet injury with shell blast injury”.
Asrar’s funeral was held in the same park where he had been initially wounded. Given India’s ongoing communications blockade, the news of his death moved slowly through the city.
The clamp down on communication has made it difficult to distinguish fact from rumour, and to challenge outright misinformation.
It’s within that context, that Indian officials have put forward an alternative account of Asrar’s death.
“He was hit by stone,” a senior police officer told a press conference.
“I am sure about it.”
In early August India revoked Article 370 of the Indian constitution that was intended to prevent demographic changes in the Muslim-majority region.
The abrogation of the law coincided with a blanket crackdown in the state - with phone lines and internet services shut down, curfews imposed, and extra troops drafted in to what is already one of the most heavily militarised regions on Earth.
Despite the huge military and police operation and widespread anti-Indian protests, New Delhi has sought to convey a sense of normality and acceptance of the Indian government’s decision.
Because of the clampdown it was near impossible for Asrar’s friends and family to challenge the official narrative of his death.
However, medical records clearly demonstrate that the Indian narrative was inaccurate.
Asrar’s x-rays show dozens of pellets embedded in his skull and a picture of the teenager taken soon after receiving his wound show his face pockmarked with fresh pellet-sized scars.
Human rights abuses
Since announcing the abrogation, India has launched a far reaching crackdown not just against separatists but the Kashmiri population as a whole.
Pro-India politicians, such as Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, have been detained by authorities, as well as upwards of 4,000 other Kashmiris.
Journalists have reported intimidation and threats by Indian forces and those speaking to reporters about the impact of the crackdown have also been detained.
The Indian blockade of communication lines has left families cut off from one another and has seriously hindered the ability of medical staff, such as pharmacists and doctors to do their jobs properly and ensure supplies are kept well stocked.
Condemnation of India’s behaviour has come primarily and nearly exclusively from Pakistan and its ally China but the reaction from western states has largely been meek.
Kashmir is one of the world’s most heavily militarised areas in the world with more than 700,000 Indian soldiers stationed in the Himalayan region, a number that amounts to one soldier for every ten Kashmiri residents.
Before the current crisis, Indian authorities have been criticised for their treatment of Kashmir’s civilian population.
A 2019 report by the UN, condemned India for violence against civilians, including the use of pellet-firing shotguns against civilians.