Srinagar: On Friday afternoon, policemen deployed at Kak Sarai Chowk near Shri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital sealed both sides of the road and barred the movement of dozens of vehicles, including an ambulance that was carrying a patient in critical condition.
Laying barricades and razor wires all across the road, the policemen didn’t allow passage to the ambulances that was going from SMHS to SKIMS Soura hospital with a patient in serious condition. The road from SMHS to SKIMS Soura is the main route used by patients to go to both the hospitals. This road was never blocked even during the worst days of the uprising last year.
When asked why the road had been closed, one of the policemen enforcing the blockade said that he had orders from senior officers to not allow anyone on this route, not even media persons.
The blockade left many patients and their attendants stuck on the road in the scorching heat. Many of the stranded were on fast since dawn for Ramzan.
Clutching his chest, Ghulam Mohammad from Eidgah was one of the patients who were stuck in the middle of the road. He was being rushed to SMHS by his family after he complained of pain in his chest. The car he was travelling in was not allowed passage by policemen despite his obvious health problem.
His son Amir Ahmad argued with a police official for several minutes, only to be told that if he wanted to pass the barricade then he should go to police station Karan Nagar and get permission.
Hajira, another middle-aged patient who was being accompanied by her husband from Bemina, could do nothing but watch helplessly the heated exchange of arguments between policemen and stranded people. “My wife is fighting breathlessness, but they hardly seem to care,” her husband said of the policemen’s attitude.
Minutes later, an ambulance came out from the SMHS hospital. As per the driver, it was carrying a patient in critical condition to SKIMS Soura. The policemen, after facing pressure from people, tried to make way for the ambulance, but without letting any other vehicle pass. The police were trying to clear the way when, suddenly, all the barricades were removed to make way for a Central Reserve Police Force vehicle.
Now forgetting the ambulance entirely, the policemen sprung into action to clear the way for the CRPF vehicle. They were joined by a few CRPF soldiers who came down from their vehicle to clear the road.
Directing everyone to keep aside, the CRPF soldiers together with the policemen successfully cleared the way for their vehicle. A few vehicles quickly followed the CRPF vehicle past the barricades, but seconds later the policemen again laid razor wires and barricades across the road. “Seal the road! I have just received a call from higher officials,” a police officer shouted out.
Senior Superintendent of Police Srinagar Imtiyaz Parray said that he was just following orders. “Such were the orders (to close the road) from the deputy commissioner. We just enforced them,” Parray said.
Deputy Commissioner Srinagar Farooq Ahmad Lone told Kashmir Reader that whenever restrictions are needed they are imposed, but there is no restriction on the movement of ambulances. When told about the blockade that the SMHS ambulance faced, Lone said he would look into the matter.