For people living under the strictly enforced curfew in Srinagar since Tuesday evening, Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram’s indication that it could be lifted in a couple of days might have brought some relief. For each day under curfew means great hardships for many people, especially those who are in urgent need of healthcare and medicines.
Take the case of 27-year-old Ashima (name changed) and her parents who live in the Nowshera locality, where stone-pelting protests take place with relentless regularity.
The family moved to a hotel 100 metres from a hospital in the relatively peaceful upmarket Rajbagh area a couple of hours before curfew was enforced. The reason: Ashima is due to deliver a baby anytime this week.
“We don’t want to take any risk with her life,” said her father who did not want to be named.
He said the discomfort of being confined to a hotel room and not being able to give the mother-to-be the nutritious food she needs at this juncture was preferable to living at home in a volatile area, where the possibility of death is a grim reality.
Last week, Ashima’s cousin had a baby. “She had a caesarian delivery but can’t even go to her doctor for a follow-up,” said Ashima, adding that her cousin has run out of antibiotics as all chemist shops in the city are closed. “What would my fate have been if I go into labour during curfew?’’ she asked.
Cut to Dr Mohammad Shafi, medical superintendent of Srinagar’s only maternity hospital, Lalded, named after the 14th century Kashmiri poetess.
It is located near Lal Chowk in the heart of the city and caters to almost the entire Valley.
“Though we managed to keep the out-patient department open, it remains deserted because of the curfew,” said Dr Shafi.
“We want to ferry our staff in ambulances but the security forces on the roads don’t entertain the curfew passes. Our staff from downtown has not been allowed to reach the hospital. These vital services should not have been restricted,” he said.
(With HTC, Delhi)