Srinagar: The government forces in Pulwama district have enforced a strict clampdown even denying access to the patients to visit the healthcare centres.
The town under siege since July 8, when popular Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani was killed, has been further strangulated by the government forces, preventing the patients from visiting the hospitals for checkups, locals told Kashmir Reader Sunday.
CRPF troopers, they said, not only boo away the patients and their attendants by swinging lathis, but at times hurl marbles with catapults at the closed shutters to frighten them.
“It was a nightmare to take my ailing mother to the district hospital for check up. CRPF (men) shouted at us at Malangpora, while the local cops looked at us helplessly. We had to take a longer route to reach the hospital,” Shahid Ahmad, a resident of Koil told Kashmir Reader.
He said that he has learned that even the emergency patients are denied access to visit the hospital by the forces, contrary to the directions of the district officials seeking unhindered passage for the sick.
“The hospital is empty because the locals are not being allowed to visit it. Earlier, it would take hours to see a doctor because of the huge rush of patients. Now, it is a matter of minutes,” he added.
Like Ahmad, many residents complained denial of healthcare facilities by the government forces, who have been deployed in large numbers to contain the pro-freedom protests. The four major road links to the hospital from Awantipora, Shopian, Kellar and Nowgam, the locals said, have been blocked by the government forces.
“My nephew was admitted to the hospital for a week. After being discharged from the hospital, he was returning home with his parents but the troopers near district police lines stopped them. They were let off after repeated pleas,” Abdur Rashid, a resident of Arihal said.
The couple, he said, had to travel a distance of six kilometres by foot since the forces were not allowing vehicles to ply on the roads blocked with razor wire.
The doctors at the district hospital told Kashmir Reader that the patient inflow to the 100-bedded hospital has reduced by 50 percent since the uprising started last month. Even the doctors and the paramedics, he said, face difficulty in reaching the hospital for duties.
“We don’t move in our personal vehicles anymore. Ambulances are used to ferry doctors and paramedical staff since forces have restricted movement of private vehicles,” a doctor, who insisted not to be named, told Kashmir Reader.
The government forces, he said, have imposed harsh curbs after Wednesday’s suspected militant attack that left nearly twenty policemen, including three senior officers injured.
“People are too terrified to visit hospital because of the harassment at the hands of forces. They visit local doctors or chemists instead,” the doctor added.
Deputy Commissioner Pulwama, Munir-ul-Islam said that orders have been issued to all the security personnel not to hinder movement of ambulances, doctors, patients or people having urgency.
However, he admitted that there have been instances when people have not been able to move as freely as they would have ordinarily “due to the strict curfew that was imposed after a grenade attack in the district recently.”
“There was no curfew prior to the grenade attack but we had to impose tough restrictions for the safety of the people since the grenade attack. There are stone pelting people also. But at the same time, we have ensured that whenever patients or people having other urgency contacted us, we have allowed their passage.”