Lockdown hits media, claims life of asthma patient in Valley

Written by Muzamil Jaleel | Srinagar | Updated: Jul 9 2010, 07:23am hrs
In Baramulla, a groom and his bride were stuck on the road for hours but the 50 baratis were forced to spend the night in the open. In Rafiabad, among the few places in Kashmir where restrictions have not yet been enforced, people took to the streets in hundreds. And in Srinagar, people defied curfew in Chanpora. Hospitals are unable to operatedoctors and paramedics cannot report for work, patients are unable to reach the hospital, and medicine stocks and food are running out.

Asthma patient Mohammad Asadullah had a serious attack at home in Keil Mohalla, Nowhatta. The family tried to shift him to hospital but there was no curfew pass. The CRPF men in the lane outside the house didnt allow the family to step out. Several hours later, Asadullahs family managed the phone number of the local police station and called for help. We sent a police vehicle and took him to hospital but he died, a senior police officer in Srinagar said. It was too late.

For the first time in 17 years as a reporter in Kashmir, one is unable to step out of home. There is curfew not just in Srinagar and in other major towns of the Valley but also on news. There is a complete lockdown on the media. Government officials have been told not to speak to journalists and even doctors have been threatened with action if they do so.

I walked seven miles this morning to reach the hospital where I work. At each check point, I had to plead to let me pass. I first thought I wouldnt go but two of my patients are in intensive care and they will die if I am not around. Thank god there are are no shoot-at-sight orders, a senior doctor said. We usually have 6,000-7,000 patients visiting our OPD everyday. On Thursday, the hospital looks deserted.

Doctors of two main hospitals in the city, Shri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) Hospital and Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS), were not able to get to work because the government cancelled all curfew passes issued earlier. Securitymen were given strict directions not to honour any curfew pass.

On Wednesday, CRPF men, angry at being stone pelted by youths, barged into the emergency room of the SKIMS and allegedly assaulted doctors, paramedics and attendants. Doctors on Thursday protested and raised slogans.