Saleema Jan, a resident of a far-off village of Kashmir’s frontier district Kupwara, was all excited for the last nine months after she conceived her first baby. But delivering the baby turned into a nightmare for Jan on Saturday. The scary memories, she says, is going to haunt her all her life.
Jan, along with her husband Muhammad A. Dar, father Haji Muhammad Maqbool and two women, had to hire an ambulance from Kupwara’s sub-district hospital as an emergency case to undergo a caesarian operation to deliver the baby. Surgical facility is not available in Kupwara, which is more than 100 km north of Srinagar.
A resident of village Potaslar in Lolab area, Jan had to dodge protests and security forces’ checkpoints at several places on the Srinagar-Baramulla national highway on Saturday with the entire Valley under curfew. Two people died on Saturday in security forces’ firing taking the death toll to 23 in the last 52 days of unrest.
The looming siren helped the ambulance make its way till Pattan, 17 km north of Srinagar, with no major hitches. “It was a horrible trip from Kupwara. But it turned nasty when a CRPF patrol stopped the ambulance near Pattan,” said Jan to Hindustan Times over phone from Srinagar’s leading maternity Lal Ded hospital, where she is admitted now.
The family alleged the driver was the first to be beaten up by the security forces without citing any reason. “They (security forces) broke the front and back window panes of the ambulance. My womb turned into a stone for a while. We were all wailing,” said Jan.
The area, where the ambulance was halted, had witnessed major violent protests for the last four days with two people dead. Jan’s husband and father were beaten by the angry soldiers. “They (security forces) asked my father and husband to raise pro-India slogans. But thank God they did not beat us up…I don’t want to deliver my baby in such violence-ridden Kashmir,” said Jan.
However, CRPF spokesman Prabhakar Triparthi termed the allegations of ambulances being attacked as "baseless". "There is no truth in the allegation that the CRPF jawans attacked any ambulance in Pattan yesterday," Tripathi told the Hindustan Times. He said the CRPF was, instead, helping those in need.
But good news was in store for Jan. “The baby is fine and healthy,” Dr Umar Jan Munshi, of the Neonatology department of the Lal Ded hospital, told the HT.
Jan is set to deliver the baby in a week. “The experience will haunt me all my life. This will be my first story to tell to my kid,” said Jan.