Army and medical authorities in the valley are blaming each other for a shocking incident of a 26-year-old woman giving birth to a baby outside a locked hospital in north Kashmir's frontier district on Kupwara.
Blame game started after the woman's husband alleged that he found the local Public Health Centre PHC locked and staff missing forcing the women to deliver on the road amidst severe snowfall and biting cold.
Shehzad Ahmad Mir, a resident of Zafar Khani Sarmarg, alleged he along with his pregnant wife AsiyaJan were first stopped by army for an hour saying that the area was under cordon and search operations were on. "After we pleaded with the army to let us go and somehow reached the PHC, to our horror we found it closed," Mir alleges. "The staff was missing till 1 pm and my wife was forced to deliver on the road," he added.
The delivery according to him happened outside the hospital with the help of local women in the area.
Mir said his wife complained of severe pain early morning when they decided to take her to the hospital about 5 kilometres away. "I along with my brother and some neighbors took her on shoulders towards (PHC) Kukroosa as the roads in the area were still covered with snow and traffic was not plying", he said.
"First the painful journey, than the interception by army and ultimately the lack of medical facilities has left her too weak and stressed," Mir says.
According to him, the two-year-old baby is also not 'completely out of danger'.
After the incident protest broke out in the area against army and the medical authorities.
Speaking to Media, Kupwara chief medical officer (CMO) Dr Aleem said that the medical staff reached late as they were stopped by the army in the crackdown. "Our paramedical team, doctors and other staff were not allowed by the army and police due to crackdown. They were allowed only after I talked to the SHO concerned and army officials," he said.
Director, Health, Dr Saleem Rehman told Hindustan Times that the PHC was not a `24 hour medical facility' and the staff reached late due to conditions beyond their control.
I want to say nothing more about the issue," he added.
Army authorities however refuted the allegations. "The incident happened on January 9. The lady was referred from one PHC to another PHC but on reaching their found the place locked. Army has no role in it," said Srinagar based defence spokesman, Lt Col N N Joshi.
"Yes there was a cordon in that area but we stopped nobody. The protests there were against the PHC not army," he added
Meanwhile the district authorities have ordered an inquiry into the incident.