SRINAGAR: Of the 150 vehicles, including ambulances, of the SK Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS), 60 to 70 have been damaged mostly by the government forces in the last two weeks.
“The vehicles ferrying staff and patients have come under attack since the protest started. Our 60 to 70 vehicles have been partially damaged in these attacks carried out mostly by the government forces. On a few occasion, some miscreants on the streets also attacked our vehicles,” insiders in the institute told Kashmir Reader on Saturday.
This correspondent saw some of the damaged vehicles parked in the compound of the institute. Most of them are without window panes.
In the latest incident that took place on Friday evening, a vehicle taking 42 SKIMS’ employees to their respective residences was attacked by the paramilitary CRPF at Beehama, Ganderbal, in central Kashmir.
The vehicle was severely damaged in the attack, while its driver, Ashiq Hussain, has one of his arms and a leg fractured.
“They stopped our vehicle for checking. After they (forces) were done, we were asked to go. But before we could leave the spot, the forces cornered our vehicle and started breaking its windowpanes with their batons. The staff got terrified and everyone cried for help, but the forces didn’t stop,” Hussain recollected.
“When I tried to drive away, a CRPF officer dragged me out of the vehicle and started thrashing me. I pleaded them to let me go, but in reply they intensified the beating. I was crying.”
Hussain has a fracture in his right arm and leg, and his thigh is also wounded. He is under treatment at SKIMS, Soura.
Besides him, at least six other employees, including a woman, have received injuries, the employees travelling in the vehicle said.
“The fear created by the incident may force most employees of SKIMS to stay home,” they said.
They said the policemen present at the spot “watched as mute spectators” as they were being beaten up by the paramilitary personnel.
“Even SP Ganderbal was there, but he too didn’t utter a word to stop the CRPF personnel. It felt as if he too wanted us to be beaten,” the employee said.
In a similar incident that happened a few days ago, the employees of SKIMS were “trapped” by police near Habbak here and beaten up.
“That time also, the police first stopped us and then asked us to go. After we moved a few meters, CRPF stopped us again and damaged our vehicle with their batons,” Hussain said, pointing towards the damaged vehicle.
“Somehow, we managed to escape that time. Otherwise, we might have been beaten up like we were yesterday,” he said.
“Not even a single driver of SKIMS has been able to avoid such incidents; all of us have suffered the treatment at some point of time since this agitation started. But we will continue to risk our lives because it is for our suffering patients.”