Kashmir: Doctors Protest Against Police Harassment in the Valley
Ishfaq-ul-Hassan | India Tomorrow
SRINAGAR, MAY 27—More than 100 doctors in Srinagar on Tuesday protested against harassment of medicos by police in the Kashmir valley.
The protest was organised by the Doctors Association of Kashmoir (DAK) after a senior cardiologist Dr. Syed Maqbool was allegedly beaten up by the police and kept in police detention for several hours on May 23.
“They may stop us, beat us, arrest us, strip us but we will always be there for you(patients)”, read the placards carried by the protesting doctors.
However, sensing bad PR, cops on Wednesday lined up on the streets to welcome doctors. They handed out roses and flower bouquets to doctors at different hospitals in an attempt to rebuild bridges with the frontline health workers.
The incident happened when Dr. Maqbool was on his way to SMHS hospital to attend emergency patients. According to doctors, they were being harassed by the police and stopped from carrying out their duties at different places in the state.
“I was stopped by a constable and asked to turn back and go through some other route despite showing my identity card/duty roaster. I requested him to allow me as I was already getting late due to a traffic jam. In return, he started abusing me. I came down and asked him that I want to talk to his officer. He instead hit my belly with his baton and in the meantime, the SHO came running and dragged me to the police station,” Dr. Maqbool wrote in a long post on Facebook.
His ordeal was compounded when he was taken to the police station. “He told me that if you say anything more I will strip and beat you to hell. I did not give up and repeatedly asked for my cellphone and then at 4 pm I was allowed to make a call to my colleagues for arranging someone to take care of patients with the order that if you tell them you are in Zadibal ‘thana’, I will strip you naked and put you behind bars,” Dr. Maqbool said.
Soon after the post went viral, police started going into damage control mode. Sometimes they blamed doctors, sometimes they ordered a probe and sometimes they apologized, all in a matter of hours.
“Inspector General of Police, Kashmir Zone, took strong notice of the complaint appearing in social media circles about police personnel while discharging their duties on the road. He instructed a senior officer to submit a factual report regarding the same. It was also reiterated that doctors, paramedics, and police are jointly combating COVID 19 and whatever incident has taken place, we shall look into it and conduct impartial inquiry besides take due action”, said a police spokesman.
Even as police was trying to calm the tempers, Chief Medical Officer Bandipora Dr. Tajamul Islam was stopped by police on Tuesday while he was on way to inspect quarantine and sample collection centres in the district.
His official vehicle was stopped near the new District Hospital Bandipora complex and not allowed to proceed by the Bandipora Police.
“It was only after the intervention of Deputy Commissioner Bandipora Shahbaz Mirza that I was allowed to move towards the quarantine centre,” he said.
SSP Bandipora, Rahul Malik played down the matter saying the matter was “resolved on the spot”.
“There was some confusion after yesterday’s order by district administration regarding disallowing vehicles from Nusoo toward the main market. The matter was solved amicably on the spot,” he said.