Relentless Curfew Leaves Babies Starving

Srinagar: Two days on, since his favourite milk-food pack exhausted in this besieged City here, 18-month-old Musa has not taken any meals. Though offered cow milk, he is unwilling to have it.

Musa is one of the several thousand babies, whose food habits have been affected by the stringent curfew in place across the Valley, pushing the newborn and toddlers to starvation.

Amid siege, the shortage of baby food has put the parents to helplessness while the government is unwilling to offer any relaxation.

The tiny tots seem to be bearing the brunt. “Our baby was habitual of having Naan milk that too of chocolate flavor. Now that same is not available anymore at home while the markets are shut, she is unwilling take anything else,” complained Humaira, a mother.

Another family had a similar complaint. “Our baby only takes rice in pure cow milk which we would ferry from Rawalpora locality. But given the curfew we couldn’t get pure milk and he is not willing to have any other food,” said a parent from Sanat Nagar locality.

In fact since August 16, the Valley is reeling under strict day and night curfew. While the security forces have not been acknowledging curfew passes, even the movement of ambulances has turned unsafe.

Just last evening, an ambulance driver was shot at by paramilitary CRPF near the SMHS Hospital which is bearing the brunt of the crises with over 1500 having been hospitalized for treatment to wounds.

Pediatricians, on the other hand, endorsed the problem being confronted by the babies and their parents. “See basically their taste-buds get tuned with what you feed them. If a child is habitual of taking Naan, he won’t easily like cow milk and the one liking cow milk wont like packaged milk,” the doctor told Kashmir Observer.

Explaining his point, the medico said: “This is much like adults. We Kashmiris   like a typical style of food, if we are given Assamese food, we may not like to eat it. The same is true for tiny tots,” the medico explained.

He however blamed the urban life for the “drastic change in food habits of kids.” “Though mother’s milk is the best milk and after six months children should be given cow milk as well… The sedentary urban lifestyle is programming the kids in a different way than it used to be till some decades ago,” he said.

Seven million odd population of Kashmir has been under siege since July 8 when militant commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani and his two associates were killed. In the ongoing unrest at least 68 people have been killed over 8,000 have been wounded in action by government forces.

While the situation is declining to get back to normal the state government has been tightening the noose around the restive Valley. Though earlier it was only day curfew soon after the Independence Day celebrations, the government extended the curfew to night hours as well.

On the other hand, the police has been asking shopkeepers to keep markets shuts even during the relaxation calls given by the separatist camps. “This all had compounded the crises,” said a Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation leader adding that “the PDP-BJP government has pushed the people to the wall.”

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