The Jammu and Kashmir government has asked the security forces to discharge their duties "sensitively and without harassing civilians".
A circular was issued to security forces, including the state police, Army, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and Border Security Force (BSF), Kashmir divisional commissioner Shailendra Kumar said on Monday. The circular was issued following reports of a woman giving birth outside a locked health centre amid severe snowfall in Kupwara on Thursday. An Army operation was underway at that time.
"All security agencies have been asked to be sensitive towards the general public while discharging their duties. They have been asked to allow sick people, pregnant women and students going for examinations to move after verifying their details," Kumar told Hindustan Times.
The circular also says that doctors and emergency staff should be allowed to reach their workplaces.
The woman's husband had alleged that he and his wife, who was in labour, were intercepted by the Army when they were on their way to a primary health centre in Kupwara during a search operation, and were not allowed to move for over an hour. When they reached the facility, they found it locked and the staff missing, forcing her to give birth in the street with the help of local women.
Later, doctors from the health centre had alleged that they had been delayed due to the cordon.
However, the army had claimed that the woman was delayed as she had been referred from one health centre to another.
"The circular has been issued after I completed my investigation. The call records of the hospital staff showed that they desperately wanted to reach the hospital. Otherwise, how is it possible that everyone from the sweeper to the senior-most doctor remain absent on the same day? It shows that they were not allowed to pass through the cordon. Due to god's kindness, mother and child are fine, else she may have developed complications and required surgery," he added.
"The security forces have been asked to follow the standard operating procedure. We are not blaming anyone, just asking that the standard operating procedure be maintained. The security forces are fulfilling their duties, and should allow the others to fulfill theirs," he said.
"How will stopping a pregnant woman help catch a militant? It was broad daylight and the woman visibly pregnant. The personnel should have been sensitive to her pain," he added.