Curfew Has Turned Kashmir Into A Prison17 September 2010
Srinagar: Sixty-year-old Ghulam Mohammad had never felt so helpless. Throughout Friday, he had been going from shop to shop to buy peritoneal dialysis (PD) fluid for his daughter who needed dialysis. Mohammad couldn’t bear to see his daughter suffer, so he pleaded with medicine storekeepers and paramedics for the PD fluid. “He requested me to arrange it but all medicine shops were closed,” a paramedic said. Mohammad is desperate for medicine, and like him the rest of Kashmir is desperate for food, milk, medicine and baby food. The curfew has forced people to stay at home and this imprisonment doesn’t seem to be ending. For the first time since unrest began, medicine shops have been shut. Even medicine store owners near hospitals have downed shutters because of strict curfew. “We have stocked medicines for three months but these are meant for patients admitted in our hospital. Those who come for treatment in the outpatient department have to get medicines from outside,” said Dr Waseem Qureshi, medical superintendent of Shri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) Hospital, the main hospital in Srinagar. Ajaz Ahmad, a government employee, woke up at 2am to buy a litre of milk for his pregnant wife, but could not get it. “My wife has been advised to take a cup of milk at least once a day, but for the last few days she has not got any nourishment because we are unable to get milk. Even my two-year-old nieces have not had milk to drink,” he rued. This is just a small story of the human disaster unfolding in Kashmir. People are running out of food and are cursing the government for the curfew. In the past 24 hours, police have started making announcements through local cable networks, asking people to contact them for assistance. “In case you need medicines or baby food, please contact the local section house officer (SHO),” a police spokesman said. Prominent lawyer and chairman of National Panthers Party (NPP) Bhim Singh has filed a petition in the Supreme Court against the curfew. Singh has sought relief for patients, daily wagers and students who cannot go about their work because of the curfew. The party has prayed to the court to issue direction so that hospitals and clinics are kept out of the domain of curfew.