THIS is in reference to the news item titled “Pregnant Woman Walks 5 Km for Medical Check-up” published in this newspaper on 6 January 2021. A simple Google search “Pregnant woman amid snow in Kashmir” reveals a pattern how every year in winter Kashmiri pregnant women make a few headlines in local as well as national media. Most of these headlines are from far-flung areas in Kashmir and involve the rescue of pregnant women by the Indian Army. For example, a tweet by PRO Udhampur, Ministry of Defence on 7 January 2021 containing a video of a pregnant woman being carried by army personnel on a stretcher says “heavy snow in Kashmir brings unprecedented challenges for citizens, especially in higher reaches. Watch the Soldier & Awam fighting it out together by evacuating a patient to the nearest PHC for medical treatment.” This consistent need for pregnant women in the snow to seek help from the army should raise questions. It should raise questions as to why be there a need for the army’s help in the first place? Why was not the civil administration able to help? Why was no medical facility available for these women in their own village or locality? Why was the snow from roads not cleared? Since only pregnant women make it to the news, it is interesting that there must be a lot of other kinds of patients in these places who might need medical attention, what happens to them? Do they get help from anyone? All these incidents expose the failure of civil administration in Kashmir. The failure to clear roads of snow in time tends to block people’s easy access to medical help and puts a large number of lives in danger. While we only get to hear the story of those who were rescued, there must be a lot of people who could not get any help. There is a need for civil administration to speed up their snow clearance operations and at least make roads to necessary medical facilities accessible.
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