SRINAGAR: Ambulance drivers of Srinagar’s SMHS hospital say that police and paramilitary troops are hindering their movement and harassing them. The task of transporting patients and staff to the hospital has become difficult due to this, the drivers say.
Abdul Aziz says he has only a few years of service left and has been an ambulance driver since 1981. He has witnessed different phases of Kashmir militancy in the 1990s, followed by a series of popular protests since 2008, but this time both police and paramilitary troops have become difficult to tackle, he says.
“In the past, it was protesters who were difficult to tackle but now it is the police that are giving us a tough time,” he said.
Aziz said that paramilitary troops and policemen were denying access to many areas and telling ambulance drivers to find other routes. The worst part, Aziz said, was that they were even telling drivers to remove barriers and keep them in place again at many street crossings.
“We face a far greater risk this time, as troops and police are not cooperating with us,” he said, adding that drivers were being subjected to violence, abuse and threats.
Abdul Hamid, who looks after the transport section of SMHS hospital, told Kashmir Reader that the movement of ambulances and other hospital vehicles was being obstructed by government forces.
“We have to reach different city areas to bring doctors, paramedics and patients here, but this time our operations are not running smoothly,” he said.
“Once stuck, we have to persuade the police to allow us passage and at times we have to call senior police officers to help us get through,” Hamid said.
He mentioned that staffers of the health department have sustained injuries while performing their duties.
A few damaged vehicles could be seen stationed in the hospital premises and one vehicle belonging to LD hospital had been damaged.
Police should ensure that we are able to do our duties, especially in emergency situations, the hospital drivers appealed.