HC asks govt to ensure pellet eye victims are taken to outside institutions if SMHS can’t handle all surgeries
Srinagar: Observing that “those who lose eyesight lose the universe”, the high court asked the government on Saturday to ensure timely treatment of those who have suffered injuries in action by government forces in the Valley. “This is a very serious matter. Immediate action has to be taken,” a division bench of the high court comprising Chief Justice N Paul Vasanthakumar and Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar said in response to media reports suggesting dearth of equipment and paucity of required number of specialist doctors at SHMS to enable timely treatment to the people who have suffered eye injuries, mainly due to pellets during the past two weeks.
“It is everybody’s concern. It is coming in newspapers daily and you (advocate general) got three days to inform the court about the number of patients with eye injuries. You are not with the report today and it would mean that something is amiss, something is lacking. Somebody losing his eyesight loses everything. He loses his universe,” the bench observed.
One of the reports said the SMHS hospital’s ophthalmology department has admitted 183 patients with pellet injuries in eyes since July 8.
Six patients, it said, have lost vision in both eyes, while 10 patients are blinded in one eye due to ruptured owing to pellets and later eviscerated by the surgeons and about 140 patients need retina surgeries within the next three weeks.
Quoting doctors, the report said the SMHS hospital can conduct surgeries of 3 to 4 patients in a day which means roughly 28 surgeries in a week.
To operate upon 140 patients, it may take about five weeks, meaning thereby that a number of patients may lose eye globe due to shrinkage and will become visually disabled for life.
“The details in news item published, if found true by the authorities, immediate steps have to be taken to treat the patients including conducting of retina surgeries. Want of space or operation table or surgical items or surgeons cannot be an answer to deny timely treatment to the patients who are to be treated for getting vision in their eyes,” the court said and directed the Director, Health Services Kashmir, as well as the Principal, Government Medical College Srinagar, to go through the news item and take a decision forthwith so as to enable the persons admitted for eye treatment are treated without delay.
“It is made clear that if it is found that all the patients cannot be treated in SMHS Hospital, Srinagar, patients be shifted to other hospitals (outside) for providing them the treatment including surgeries,” the court said and directed the authorities to file a status report on July 26 at 10.30 AM.
The other report, referred to by the court, highlights the suffering of a 5-year-old boy from Kokernag being treated for severe pellet injury in the hospital.
“Such incidents shall have to be taken note of by the state for not only giving appropriate treatment but also to give compensation to the affected persons, families,” the court said.
The court also referred to pictures in newspapers, showing the 5-year-old Nasir on a hospital bed with his left eye bandaged.
“One cannot look at this photograph. No sensitive soul can bear it. A 5-year-old child! You can’t accuse him of throwing stones,” the court said.
During the hearing of the PIL, it was also brought to the notice of the court that police and other law enforcing agencies are not allowing medical shops to open and sell medicines.
“There are media reports that even medical shops are not to run in some areas. Tell us whether medical shops can be ordered to be closed?” the bench asked the advocate general.
“The position is like that. The government at top says it has not ordered the ban on newspapers but police went there and seized the printed material or plates. It is fact which is not disputed. Similarly if somebody at lower level is doing something, it is mischief or whatever is for the government to find out, our effort is only to ensure that medicine should reach to everybody,” the court said and asked the law enforcing agencies not to force closure of any medical shop.
“Wherever necessary, protection should be provided for selling of the medicine as the state cannot allow people to suffer for want of medicine,” the court said.
The court also asked the Advocate General to submit a report whether cancer patients have been supplied with medicine as directed and by the court on the next date of hearing in the PIL which was filed by an NGO—JK Peoples Forum though its general secretary M M Shuja—in the aftermath of the curfew imposed by the government since July 9.