Valley clampdown: Three days on, father remains unaware of twins’ birth
At Kashmir’s only maternity hospital Lal Ded, 26-year-old Shaziya, a resident of downtown, is eagerly waiting for her husband Firdous Ahmad who remains unaware about the birth of his twins.
Owing to the restrictions and communication blockade in Kashmir, Shazia was not been able to make a call or send a message to Ahmad, a police constable, who is on duty in southern district of Shopian. He left home on Tuesday, a day after Eid promising Shazia to return next month when the twins were actually due. Owing to some complications, Shazia was rushed to Lal Ded hospital on Wednesday and gave birth to twins.
“I wanted him to wait for one more day but his leave had expired. Had he been here, he would have been so happy. I so wanted him to be here,” she said while lying on the hospital bed with tears welling up in her eyes.
Outside the hospital, ambulances and cabs were seen dropping patients, referred from the district hospitals, every now and then. After dropping them, drivers then made announcements on public address system to ferry discharged patients to their respective districts. As against the normal days when the corridors of the hospital would be teeming with relatives, friends and guests of the patients, the passageways these days are sparsely filled with more concentration near examination and labour rooms.
Restrictions have been imposed in Kashmir since Monday (August 5) after the BJP-led central government abolished the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 and split the state into two union territories – Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh.
On Friday, Ahmad’s family sent a human courier to Shopian to inform him so that he could request for a leave. “My brother and Shazia’s cousin left in a load carrier at 4 am but due to the restrictions they are yet to return,” said Baby Jan, Ahmad’s elder sister.
During restrictions people these days would travel during nights, particularly late evenings, after the security deployments withdraw from roads or before they are being deployed.
Fearing that the situation may prolong, some patients have been reaching the hospital earlier than their due dates.
Adil Ahmad, from central Kashmir’s Charar-e-Sharief, whose sister gave birth on Thursday, was very concerned about future situation. “We came here a week earlier than my sister’s due date. We thought the situation is peaceful right now. Nobody knows what happens next,” he said.
A senior employee at Gynecology section of the hospital said patient inflow to the hospital has reduced since the clampdown. “But many patients, whose delivery dates are close, plead doctors to get their caesarian and pre-pone the birth dates, especially those who had come from neighboring districts,’’ he said, not wishing to be named.
The employee who is in the service from past 12 years said that similar situation was witnessed in the hospital after the floods of 2014 and in 2016 after Burhan Wani’s killing . “This is one of the biggest hospitals where patients come from far off places like Uri, Keran Tanghdar and Gurez. Due to restrictions and communication blockade patients from remote areas face lot of trouble. Many patients who had due dates in the last week of this month, wanted to do it earlier as nobody has any idea how the situation will turn next in the Valley,” he said.
The restrictions have also put their toll on the hospital staff. Qulsooma Wani, a staff nurse, was able to come to the hospital on August 5 in an ambulance and since then she has not been able to visit her home in Kulgam, some 65-70 km from Srinagar.
“I came here in an ambulance and have not been able to return. I spent my Eid here in a hostel. If I go home how I can come back amid the restrictions,” Wani said.
Medical superintendent of the hospital Dr Shabir was evasive when asked whether there was any change in the rush of patients during the restrictions. “We have been working here normally. This is a tertiary care hospital and the critical patients reach here come what may,” he said.
The government has been maintaining that the medical services have been going on unhindered despite the restrictions. “Medical supplies in the hospitals continue to function and there is no shortage of essentials,”said chief secretary B V R Subrahmanyam at a press conference on Friday.
Shaziya expects her husband to reach the hospital by the evening but the family’s journey is not yet complete. Her parents and sisters, who live in south Kashmir’s Qazigund, some 70 km from Srinagar, also have not gotten the good news yet.
“Three days have passed and they don’t even know that twins have been born. I feel so helpless,” she said.