Kashmir Dispatch 4 | With No Means to Reach Out to Families, Patients Struggle Alone in Srinagar Hospital
The communication blockade has affected medical services and hospitals where the situation is extraordinary, say doctors, who have been unable to identify accident patients brought to hospitals.
Security personnel stand guard in Srinagar on Friday. (PTI)
Srinagar: The surgical ward at the Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) here is unusually sparse, but all its beds are occupied – there’s another patient in a wheelchair. Three attendants, two nurses, and two doctors are managing the entire ward.
The beds are occupied by patients who were injured in a road accident at Baltal in Gandarbal district. A cab, en route to Srinagar from Leh, had skidded off the road in mild rain and fallen into a gorge. For a significant time, no one came aided the passengers. Rescuers eventually arrived once they screamed for help and shifted them to SKIMS Hospital, 130 km from Baltal.
One of those injured in the accident is currently battling for her life in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Doctors are uncertain about her identity and, consequently, have been unable to inform her family.
Due to a communication blockade in Kashmir, hospital authorities have been unable to establish any contact with the families of the injured. The blockade started on the night of August 4 — cellular and internet facilities were shut first, followed by suspension of all telecommunication services, including broadband and landline.
The blockade has also affected medical services and hospitals, where the situation is extraordinary, say doctors. When accident and emergency patients are brought to hospital, doctors find it difficult to identify the patients, they add.
“I live in Bemina and my name is Khurshid Ahmad,” said one of those injured in the accident, barely able to speak due to severe wounds on his face.
Two beds away, a lady, who identified herself as Sana Wani, was being nursed. Wani was unable to recline and spoke in a feeble voice. Her eyelids had blackened and appeared to protrude. She was accompanied by her baby and father-in-law. They had received minor injuries and were immediately discharged to their home in Chanapora locality of Srinagar.
Sandwiched between Ahmad and Wani’s bed is an injured man – Upendra Kumar, who hails from Uttar Pradesh. He works with the Army’s Canteen Stores Department (CSD) in Leh and his unit is not yet aware about the accident.
Kumar’s family, which currently lives in Srinagar’s BB Cantt area, is also not aware that he’s in hospital. “Even they don’t know I am here,” said Kumar, who looked comparatively better than the rest of the injured. “I hope at least my family comes to know.”
While the other passengers suffered injuries and managed to survive, the driver of the vehicle was not so fortunate. “He died on the spot,” said Kumar. The driver’s body arrived at his home in Srinagar’s Dalgate two days after the accident after the local police informed his family and accompanied the body.
On the first day of the clampdown, a bike-borne youth died in a road accident in Nowgam. He was hit by a vehicle and remained lying on the road for a few hours, smeared in blood. An ambulance passing by ferried him to the SMSHS Hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries at the gate.
For two days, hospital authorities and the police failed to establish the dead youth’s identity.
In another heartbreaking incident, a reporter witnessed a woman crying outside the Police Control Room (PCR) in Srinagar. Upon inquiry, the woman said that the police had informed her of her son’s death in an accident in south Kashmir.
“The police were unable to recover his body immediately even as she was sobbing and waiting alone outside the control room,” the reporter recollected.
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