By Ubeer Naqushbandi
SRINAGAR: Mehraj-ud-din Malik, 35, is a nursing orderly at Medical Record Section of Srinagar’s Lalla Ded maternity hospital. He travels more than 50 kilometres from Gund village in Ganderbal district to reach LD hospital at Wazirbagh in Srinagar.
The journey from home to office is arduous. In between stand a number of troop deployments who have increased frisking these days. “I was lucky to reach office today,” said Malik, the memory of what happened on August 14 still sending a shiver down his spine.
On August 14, Malik took a lift in a Maruti car from his village. When the car reached near Beehama Chowk in Ganderbal, the troops deployed there gestured with their iron batons at the driver to stop.
“I thought that after seeing my identity card, they would allow us to proceed,” Malik narrated the incident. “But without checking my medical card, one soldier shouted at me, ‘Ghar wapas ja, duty karne ki zaroorat nahi hai (Go home, there is no need to do your duty)”’.
Malik said he tried to pacify the soldier. “Sir, it is a medical emergency, I said. I told the soldier that the government has issued a order that medical cards must be considered as curfew passes,” Malik said.
This angered the soldier. “He took me out of the car and started beating me with his baton,” Malik said.
Malik said that he was spared probably because the soldier’s senior told him to stop. “I was limping and somehow got back into the car,” Malik said. Taking an alternate route, he reached LD hospital.
“It is not about taking the salary only. In this crisis, society needs our services the most. It is important to save as many lives as possible,” Malik replied when asked if he does not feel tired coming to work so far.
“It is difficult, but I manage by walking some miles on foot, and taking a lift for some distance,” Malik said.
Malik, who is mostly assigned night duty, said he left home early in the morning to reach the hospital on time. After he finishes his night duty, an ambulance drops him till Nagbal on Srinagar outskirts. From there he travels 50 kilometres alone.
“They (forces) ask such questions as are hard to answer. It sometimes becomes difficult to understand them. Whether one will be beaten or spared depends on the mood of the soldiers,” Malik said. He said he relied on prayers for his safety.