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‘Ambulance driver made me pay Rs 2700’: Mother of J-K girl critically injured in Pak firing

Hospital authorities clarified that the amount was fixed towards fuel charges for shifting patients between Rajouri and Jammu, and added that it would be reimbursed by the hospital.

india Updated: Oct 16, 2017 00:49 IST
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria
Hindustan Times, Jammu
Ambulance driver,Pak bombing,Injured
Rahila Kousar, wife of policeman Mohammed Naseeb Khan, told HT that the driver was also careless and stopped the ambulance in between for tea and cigarettes between 11.30 pm on Saturday and 3.30 am on Sunday.(HT PHOTO)

A mother of three children, injured in Pakistani firing in Jammu and Kashmir, was allegedly charged Rs 2,700 by an ambulance driver for ferrying her critical daughter from Rajouri to Jammu, a distance of about 150 km, on the intervening night of Saturday and Sunday.

A sobbing Rahila Kousar, wife of policeman Mohammed Naseeb Khan, told HT that the driver was also careless and stopped the ambulance in between for tea and cigarettes between 11.30 pm on Saturday and 3.30 am on Sunday.

Rajouri district hospital superintendent, Dr Mehmood Hussain Bajjar, however, clarified that the amount of Rs 2,700 was fixed by the state health transport authority towards fuel charges for shifting patients between Rajouri and Jammu, and added that it would be reimbursed by the hospital.

He also said that the driver does not smoke.

Around 6.30 pm on Saturday, when her children were about to have food inside the kitchen, a mortar fired by Pakistani troops exploded in the verandah of their residence in Balakote of Poonch sector.

Rahila’s children Tahira (16), Rafia (7) and Saquib (5), and another teenager Tariq Naseeb (17) were injured in the shelling, following which she rushed them to Mendhar hospital, where doctors referred Tahira, who was critical, to Rajouri district hospital, about 100 km away.

Doctors at the Rajouri district hospital administered two units of blood to Tahira and further referred her to Jammu, about 150 km away, around 11 pm.

While shifting to Jammu, Rahila told HT that the ambulance driver “wasted precious time by having tea and smoking cigarettes”.

“He used to stop the ambulance and kept demanding money. Eventually, I paid him Rs 2,700,” she said, lamenting that her other two kids were in Mendhar Hospital and none of them had eaten anything.

Expressing regret over the charging, which doesn’t happen in “emergency cases”, Dr Bajjar said apart from cases under Janani Shishu Suraksha Yojana, there is no provision of free transport of patients.

The money was charged towards fuel expenses as per established norms and nothing has been done in contravention of any guidelines, he said.

Dr Bajjar said he had spoken to the victim’s family over phone and promised to reimburse their money out of hospital funds.

“It’s a harsh reality that there are no funds available with district hospital for shifting the injured in border shelling,” he said, adding that he has requested the health department to take up the matter with higher authorities for arranging funds for the same.

Soon after reports of the allegations appeared in some sections of social media, deputy commissioner Dr Shahid Iqbal Choudhary directed the ADDC to enquire into the matter.

Rahila’s husband Mohammed Naseeb Khan was on duty when the incident happened.

Poonch DC gives interim relief

Poonch deputy commissioner (DC) Tariq Ahmad Zargar handed over Rs 10,000 as interim relief and promised for extending every possible support to the family in this hour of grief. He also directed the revenue officers to immediately process the case of victims for further relief.

First Published: Oct 15, 2017 21:01 IST