Curfew-hit Kashmir hit by shortages of medicines, food

SRINAGAR: With shops shut for a fourth day due to official restrictions and separatist-called shutdown, curfew-bound parts of the Kashmir Valley are facing several shortages of essential items, including medicines.

Shops remained shuttered on Tuesday too while cellphone and mobile Internet services continued to be suspended in large parts of the crisis-hit valley in the wake of mass protests against the death of a top militant commander.

Scores of people IANS spoke to complained they were not being allowed to move out of their homes even to buy food and medicines from shops located in the interiors of their neighbourhoods.

The crisis has exploded into health emergencies with chemists and druggists – in certain areas where they were allowed to open their stores – complaining that they were running out of supplies.

A chemist store in uptown Hyderpora – where no curfew was imposed – said three buyers for life-saving insulin vials visited him on Tuesday morning. But he had only one in his refrigerator and naturally two had to return empty-handed.

“I could not help. I am running short of supplies,” Shabir Bhat, the owner of the medical store, told IANS.

The predicament is shared by thousands of patients and their relatives in the Kashmir Valley, which saw widespread violent protests and counter-violence by security forces following the Friday killing of militant Burhan Wani, 22, who had emerged as the new face of Kashmir’s separatist campaign.

More than 30 people have been killed and nearly 1,500 injured in the vicious cycle of violence since Saturday.

Doctors at various hospitals said medicine shortage had begun to hit health facility centres, particularly in rural areas, due to the large numbers of injured, some of them critically.

A doctor at Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) who did not want to be named told IANS that the rush of wounded despite a shortage of essential medicines has complicated the problem.

Patients other than those injured in protests also complained.

“My father was supposed to get operated today in SKIMS. But the hospitals are already so full of the injured people that our treatment has been delayed,” said Saniya, revealing only her first name.

Not only life-saving drugs, people also complained of shortage of food items like milk, bread and vegetables.

“I came out at 7 a.m. to buy bread and milk but the shops were as usual closed. Security forces do not allow shops to open and there has been no relaxation in restrictions,” Nisar Ahmad, 30, who lives in curfew-bound Nawa Kadal area of Srinagar, complained to IANS.

Amid all these crises, a ray of hope has emerged from roadside kitchens set up by young volunteers, providing food to the needy.

“We provide food and juice to people voluntarily. We collect rice and spices from various families and cook in large quantities,” Hakeem Ahsan, one of the volunteers, told IANS.

Ahsan said voluntary groups have also supplied food at hospitals in Srinagar where attendants with patients “are suffering the most as they are not being able to get anything to eat”.

Officials claimed that at least 1,000 truckloads of essential commodities were on the way to the valley

“They will reach their destinations soon,” Minister for Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution Choudhary Zulfkar Ali said after a meeting to review the supply position of essential commodities in the valley and the Ladakh region.


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