Doctor, Heal Thyself

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SEVERAL incidents of beating of some doctors in Kashmir by the attendants has become a subject of contentious debate on social media. Some of these incidents were reported at Government Medical College Srinagar on Saturday following which the medical staff at the hospital went on strike amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. To begin with, the beating of the doctors is inexcusable. And the culprits should be taken to task for that. It is tragic that the healthcare professionals who are at the vanguard of the fight against the coronavirus pandemic and should be valorized for their tireless effort should instead become the target of those they care for. The image of a doctor being thrashed by some attendants and injured in the process is a sad reflection on the state of affairs.

That said, it is also equally important to put these incidents in a proper perspective. For one, they were just a few incidents perpetrated by a few individuals. So, holding the entire population in Kashmir responsible for them, as some doctors have done on social media, is a problematic thing to do. How can the incidents which are not enough to be counted on the fingers of one hand become a representative of the behaviour of a community?  Some doctors have even gone to the extent of creating a Them-versus-Kashmiris binary, the latter term used  pejoratively, as if the doctors themselves were not from this society. And one of the doctors who has identified himself as Chief Medical Officer of Budgam Tajamul Hussain Khan has in his social media post heaped abuse on Kashmiris, so have several other medical professionals.

These social media outpourings are not only in bad taste but shocking too. How can a section of doctors, enjoying a privileged position in the society be so prejudiced and hateful towards their own community? And how can they refuse to treat the hundreds of hapless and seriously ill patients during a pandemic by striking work? Just because a few rogue individuals beat up a few doctors? How come these few individuals stand in for an entire community of which the doctors themselves are a part?  Doesn’t this reveal an overblown sense of entitlement on the part of some members of the medical fraternity?

Now coming back to the few incidents of beating, it needs to be ascertained as to why they happened in the first place. There has to be a proper enquiry to establish this. On social media scores of attendants have narrated the heart-breaking stories of the neglect by the medical professionals at the hospitals, something they allege led to the death of their loved ones. These stories should also be investigated. The criticism of the abhorrent social media posts of some doctors, however, should in no way detract from the sterling effort put in by a predominant majority of the medical professionals to fight the ongoing pandemic. Our community is perpetually indebted to them for this.

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