Srinagar: The stricter curfew being enforced in Kashmir on the occasion of Eid ul Fitr has compounded the challenges for doctors and other frontline workers who are now facing a hard time at the hands of police and paramilitary personnel manning the streets of the valley.
Many, including those from the medical fraternity, have accused the Jammu and Kashmir police of using “excessive force” despite orders from the government to allow the free movement of essential services. The security forces, however, a day before Eid was announced in Kashmir, imposed severe restrictions on ground, barring people from all kind of movements and even closing down grocery stores.
Amidst this renewed curfew, many alleged that they were beaten up at checkpoints without any provocation even when they believed they were not violating the COVID-19 protocol.
Dr Nasir Rashid, a doctor at Lal Ded maternity hospital, said he was stopped from attending his duty the same day and beaten up by the police close to Srinagar Hospital. “I showed my identity card but I was still beaten on my way to my duty and they abused me a lot...It was traumatic,” the doctor said.
Another doctor, Zainub Nabi, working at GMC Srinagar, said she was harassed while returning from duty after cops stopped her at a checkpoint.
Nabi tweeted about the incident saying: “After being at Hospital on Eid, when i was finally going home today, I was stopped & verbally abused by the cops when i showed them my I-card. Is this how u treat those who put their lives at risk for u? Do we deserve this?”
Doctors, paramedics and other frontline workers had accused the police of using excessive force last year when the coronavirus-induced lockdown was imposed in the region. According to former head of Doctors Association of Kashmir (DAK), Dr Suhail Naik, five doctors have died in the Union territory in the past two days due to COVID-19.
The fresh cases of police brutality against frontline workers comes at a time when a top police official have told a local new agency that they have suspended a cop for beating a doctor and a paramedic in South Kashmir’s Shopian. The suspension came after medical superintendent of the district hospital of Shopian shot a letter to the administration on Wednesday about Dr Ehsan ul Haq’s ordeal as he was on his way to the hospital. Dr Ehsan was, according to the letter, “manhandled” and later detained for about four hours at Shopian police station.
“This act of JK Police towards Doctors has demoralised medical fraternity in this crucial time of pandemic Covid-19,” the letter read.
Doctors and healthcare workers in Kashmir are currently battling a second wave of coronavirus infections as cases have spiked since April. The total active positive cases in the UT have reached 52,001 with 3,027 fresh cases – 1,511 from Jammu and 1,516 from Kashmir division – on Friday; 60 new deaths were reported as well.
The police have been accused of using arbitrary force against not only doctors but also people providing essential services--many have faced harassment on their way to deliver or buy essentials like milk and grocery. A senior administrative official, identified as Additional Deputy Commissioner Baramulla Ahsan Mir, drew flak after he was seen beating people including women in a video that recently went viral on social media. The victims were pleading with folded hands in front of him.