A blame game has begun between the army and medical authorities over a woman reportedly giving birth to a baby outside a locked health centre amid severe snowfall in Kupwara district on Thursday.
The father said they were intercepted en route to a primary health centre by the army, which was conducting a search operation in the north Kashmir district, and found the facility closed on reaching there.
While doctors of the health centre alleged they were delayed owing to a cordon, the army claimed the woman was referred from one primary health centre to another and was delayed in the process.
According to Shehzad Ahmad Mir, the father and a resident of Zafar Khani Sarmarg, he and his wife, Asiya Jan, 26, were stopped for an hour by the army.
“After we requested, the army let us go. We reached the public health centre somehow. To our horror, we found it closed.
“The staff was missing till 1pm, and my wife was forced to deliver on the road,” Mir said. The delivery, according to him, happened with the help of local women.
Mir said his wife complained of severe pain early in the morning and he, along with his brothers and some neighbours, took the 26-year-old to the health facility, about 5 km away from the couple’s residence.
“We carried her on shoulder as the roads were still covered with snow and traffic was not plying... First the painful journey, then the interception by army and finally, the lack of medical facilities have made her weak and stressed.” The two-day-old baby was not “completely out of danger”, he added.
As protests broke out against the army and the medical authorities, Kupwara chief medical officer Dr Aleem said, “Our paramedical team, doctors and other staff were stopped by the army and the police. They were allowed (to proceed to the health facility) only after I talked to the police and army authorities.”
Health director Dr Saleem Rehman said the health centre was not a “24-hour medical facility and the staff reached late due to conditions beyond their control’’.
Army authorities, meanwhile, refuted the allegations. “We are trying to look into the matter. Inputs received by me suggest the woman was referred from one health centre to another. On reaching there, the family found the place locked. Army has no role in it,’’ said Srinagar-based defence spokesperson Lt Col NN Joshi.
The district authorities have ordered an inquiry into the incident.