Nida Najar in Srinagar

From The New York Times, “A Kashmir Hospital Is Witness to Conflict

“Bloodied and battered, the wounded arrive daily at the emergency room here, the casualties of weeks of protests against gun-toting Indian police and security forces that spill even into the hospital corridors.

On a day in late August, three patients — Habibullah Tiploo; his teenage daughter, Sumaira; and his daughter-in-law, Fatima — were the first to arrive. The family said Mr. Tiploo was shot by security forces outside his home; as Fatima and Sumaira, 17, rushed to his aid, they were fired upon, too.

According to a police statement, protesters were lobbing stones at a nearby bunker and the three Tiploos were wounded when the police retaliated with bullets. The family denies being part of any protest.

Protesters swarmed into the emergency room with them, struggling with doctors in surgical aprons and masks to force their way into the operating room. Some slipped past, took over Fatima’s hospital bed and wheeled it to the X-ray room as they chanted the same slogans that have filled the streets, angry words echoing off the walls and drowning out the wails of grieving friends and relatives.

‘The Kashmir which we have irrigated with our blood — that Kashmir is ours!’ they chanted.

The melee was common enough at the hospital, the Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences, where more than 500 patients have come in with bullet wounds, lacerations and bruises in the past three months.

They are often carried by scores of protesters, who take the turmoil of the streets into the hospital with them, making the emergency room a miniature of Kashmir’s conflict and a window on the ways it has overturned the lives of just about every Kashmiri, irrespective of class or professional status.”

“For the hospital staff, the journey to work is a daily exercise in resourcefulness and courage. While the rest of the city sleeps, holes up in houses and stays away from windows that tend to be the targets of stones from protesters, the doctors and paramedical staffs of the Kashmir Valley’s hospitals must still report for duty.

Many doctors, who brave the gantlet either in their own cars or in hospital ambulances that serve as stealth commuter buses, complained of being caught in protesting mobs almost daily.

Some said they were not allowed to pass by protesters or security forces, even if they arrived in an ambulance, which the police had indicated should have kept them safe. The local news media have reported that some doctors on their way to work have been brutalized by police and security forces, or arrested.”

“Pharmacies are running low on many routine medications because of a transportation shutdown in the valley, according to residents. Many family members of hospital patients whose homes lie outside Srinagar are having trouble getting food, and are being helped by local people who have donated and organized meals for the month of Ramadan.”


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