January 1998 News

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Death of children sparks protests

5th January 1998

SRINAGAR:  Police opened fire in the air here today to disperse demonstrators protesting on the death of five children in the Government Children's Hospital last night. The demonstrators blamed doctors of negligence. Senior civil and police officers visited the spot and the Government has ordered an inquiry.

 The five children from different places of the Kashmir Valley were admitted to the hospital last evening. While authorities maintained that only five children died, the hospital attendants told TheHinduthat toll was much more as those hailing from far- flung areas had left with the babies. The children were suffering from pneumonia, Dr. Maqbool Fatima, Hospital Superintendent, said adding that there was no negligence on part of doctors as the patients were brought in a critical condition.

 The District Magistrate, Srinagar, Ms. Tanveer Jehan, said these children had been admitted in a critical condition and these deaths had taken place only in last 12 hours. "Prima facie", it is established that doctors have been negligent in their duties" she said adding, however, the final investigations only would fix the responsibility. She said the toll number was being exaggerated. Ms. Jehan said that the Principal, Government Medical College, Srinagar, had been asked to conduct an inquiry and submit the report by this evening. Police were also investigating separately. Soon after the news spread, people rushed to the hospital in panic and started shouting slogans against the hospital administration. When the mob started swelling, the police first resorted to cane-charge and then fired in the air. The CPI(M) State secretary and MLA, Mr. Mohammad Yosuf Tarigami, also visited the hospital and criticised the administration being negligent. He demanded stern action against the culprits. The Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, Mr. S. L. Bhat, and other civil and police officers went to the spot and pacified the protestors and assured them that action would be taken against those found guilty.


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