Concern in Kashmir’s COVID Combatants: ‘They Can Beat Us, Arrest Us…’

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Two days after a cardiologist faced hostile policing on Srinagar streets, Chief Medical Officer, Bandipora was seen in a viral video on Tuesday, confronting policemen for derailing his duty drive. To protest this ‘growing’ cop-doc conflict on Valley’s restricted roads, the medics had a griping day out on May 26.

Photos by Abid Bhat

KARAN NAGAR, Srinagar — On a hot and humid day in Srinagar, Kashmir’s healthcare specialists quietly walked out of the Government Super Specialty hospital, Shereen Bagh and assembled outside, with posters in hand.

Donning protective gears, with black bands tied around their arms, these COVID frontline warriors—leading the valley’s pandemic fight back from the front at the moment—were sulking over the street hostility.

“It’s getting too much to handle now,” said a fresh-faced doctor, holding a poster: ‘Dear Patients, they may… Stop Us, Beat Us, Strip Us, Arrest Us… but we will always be there for you’.

“If doctors continue to face such hostile street treatment,” he continued, “it’ll risk the entire healthcare system of the society at a time, when’re in the middle of the health emergency.”

These doctors were registering their protest against the alleged harassment of a cardiologist by SHO Zadibal on Monday.

Among other things, the harried doctor, named Syed Maqbool—whose harassment case evoked widespread condemnations on social media—alleged that the officer threatened to ‘strip him naked’.

“No such behaviour is mandated or permitted,” DGP J&K Police Dilbagh Singh sharply reacted over the incident, so did IGP Kashmir, Vijay Kumar.

“My sympathies are with Dr Syed Maqbool,” the top cop continued, “and not with the police officer who is reported to have caused alleged inconvenience and mental hurt to him, have ordered probe.”

But barely 24 hours after this condemned case, cops once again drew flak over another incident, involving this time, Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Bandipora, Dr. Tajamul Hussain.

Dr. Hussain was stopped at Bandipora’s Nusoo area on Tuesday, when he was on his way to inspect Quarantine and Sample Collection Centres.

In a viral video, the fuming CMO can be seen rebuking the on-duty cops, saying that the whole health system will collapse due to this street interference.

Don’t you know we’re playing with our lives for you people, and you’re stopping us from performing our duties,” Dr. Tajamul can be heard telling the cops in the video. “Can’t you see the vehicle belongs to Health Department? Who do you think you are?

However, Rahul Malik, SSP Bandipora, said, “It was a routine check, but unfortunately, CMO got agitated. He was however pacified and matter was resolved amicably.”

At Srinagar’s silent protest site on Tuesday, the doctors expressed their anguish over the escalating situation. Some of them said they were putting up extra efforts to ensure the safety of the society up against the ‘invisible enemy’.

To ensure their perpetual presence in hospitals during pandemic, many of them had even skipped the festival like Eid recently.

“The prevailing situation has become a tightrope walk for us,” said a protesting doctor.

“While most of us are already distressed, as we stay away from our families due to fear of infection, it’s equally troubling to see how we’re being treated on streets now.”

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Auqib Javeed

Auqib did his Masters in Convergent Journalism from Central University of Kashmir (CUK) and is currently working with Kashmir Observer as Special Correspondent. He has been contributing stories for the newspaper especially on Politics, Security & defence and has a keen interest in Environment.

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