Dead baby in arms, man waits in Srinagar hospital for a curfew pass to go home

Written by Muzamil Jaleel | Srinagar | Updated: Jul 10 2010, 07:30am hrs
Carrying a dead baby boy in a cardboard boxhis sister Shameema had given birth five days ago but the child died last night Abdul Majid Dar has been pleading for an ambulance, at least a curfew pass, to take the body home to Dangerpora in Sopore.

Not one in the hospital can help they cant risk sending an ambulance out of the city without permission. Dar cant get to the Deputy Commissioner, the officer who issues the curfew pass. So, cradling the cardboard box with the body of the newborn, he waits on a bench in the courtyard of the Lal Ded Hospital in Srinagar, unable to decide what to do next.

The curfew, now in its third day, has begun to hit lives across Kashmir. I wanted to take the babys body home for burial. I didnt get an ambulance. We cant go in a private vehicle because we dont have a curfew pass, said Dar. Hospital authorities said they cant spare an ambulance immediately. I am waiting. What else can I do

For the delivery, Shameema had to be brought to Lal Ded Hospital, the only maternity hospital in the Valley. Dar said she still doesnt know about the babys death. It is her third baby to die after birth. The father wanted to see the baby but couldnt reach the hospital because of the curfew. He had to return midway twice. Now he will see the body.

Enforcing the curfew, authorities didnt allow people to offer Friday prayers in any major mosque. This has led to resentment because it is Shab-e-Meraaj (The Night of Ascendance), one of the holiest nights for Muslims when they congregate to offer special prayers. Every year, lakhs of devotees gather at the Hazratbal shrine to offer prayers on this day.

People in Hazratbal came out to protest. When policemen tried to disperse them, youths started hurling stones. A few hundred from the immediate neighbourhoods did manage to hold Friday prayers at the shrine. The prayers at Jamia Masjid, the largest mosque in Kashmir, were not held for second consecutive Friday.

Under public pressure, the government has decided to allow the faithful within the city to go to Hazratbal shrine from 8 pm onward tonight. We have decided to relax curfew to allow people to go to Hazratbal for Shab-e-Meraaj, said IGP Farooq Ahmad. The government is apprehensive because the Hurriyat has asked people to march to Hazratbal and organise protests.