Srinagar: Volunteer organisations providing help to patients at SMHS hospital protested on Thursday against police harassment, alleging that cops in civil clothes were telling them to stop helping the injured patients.
The volunteers said that policemen in civil clothes have come to them and asked them to wind up their camps, or else they will be thrown out forcefully.
The volunteers also refuted government claims of availability of all drugs at SMHS hospital. They said that the hospital administration “neglects” their service and “owns all the credit”.
Non-profit organisations Athrout, Jamiat-e-Ahlihadith, Youth Welfare Committee Bemina, Daar-ul Atta, Tawheed Forum and other smaller groups have put up their stalls inside the premises of the hospital to provide emergency medicines, daily meals, tea, drinking water, clothes and milk, free of cost to patients.
Chairman of Athrout, Bashir Ahmad Nadvi, said that the state government on TV channels had been claiming that it was providing every facility but that was a lie.
“If the government claims are true, then let them manage this situation without our help. Today we left our stalls for half a day to help people in other emergencies, after which the injured came to us and complained that the hospital was not providing them essential medicines. They even held protests during the morning,” Nadvi said.
The man in charge of the camp of Jamiat-e-Ahlihadith J&K, Abdul Rouf Malik, said that ministers like Bali Bhagat (health minister) and Asiya Naqash (minister for medical education) never tire of claiming that the government is feeding hundreds of patients and their attendants by sending lakhs of rupees to the hospital fund. “But they turn a blind eye to the number of volunteers who have been standing day and night since the protests erupted. It is they who have been the crisis managers in the past twelve days,” Malik said.
Mohammad Amin Rather, chairman of Youth Welfare Committee Bemina, which has been providing relief items like meals, tea, juices, drinking water and special meals like soups, questioned the government’s claims saying, “If the hospital was providing everything to the patients and their attendants, then who are the 300 patients whom we have been feeding?”
Rather said that even the hospital staff comes to serve meals and tea to the people at the stalls. “The hospital administration should learn to appreciate the voluntary service of Kashmiris. They have been standing for their brothers who are coming from far-off places,” Rather said.
He said that following the shutdown of the stalls for half the day today (Thursday), attendants of patients were seen crying in front of the emergency ward. “The hospital staff came to us and appealed to us to resume the service. Even the SHO of Karan Nagar police station appealed to us to carry on,” Rather said.
“Our aim is to provide free-of-cost assistance to the needy. As hospital staff has other duties, we try to manage the crisis. We are here for the cause of Allah but at the same time we don’t want the government to claim credit of our service,” said Shiekh Zahoor Ahmad, a volunteer of Daar-ul Atta organisation.
Principal of Government Medical College Srinagar, Dr Kaiser Ahmad said that the hospital administration has been appreciating the tireless efforts of the volunteers and have not asked or forced anyone to shut down their camps.
“There is no need to have publicity if someone has come to offer free service to the needy,” Dr Ahmad said.
He said that if the voluntary organisations feel they should wind up their camps, then they should. Or else, they should continue.
The Chief Medical Officer and Medical Superintendent of SMHS declined to comment.