Escalating tensions at Indo-Pak border, the subsequent shelling and casualties as a result, is what we hear in the news almost every day. But the condition of the hospitals in these shelling-prone villages is an issue that has failed to seek much attention or a solution. In Jammu, the only hospital in the volatile border region—based in RS Pura—caters to 200 villages and is devoid of even basic infrastructure and manpower.
The lone hospital caters to two assembly constituencies—Suchtegarh and RS Pura.
It is pertinent to note that this hospital witnesses 90% cases of shelling victims and because of no infrastructure and manpower, the victims are directed to the government hospital in Jammu which is 22 kilometre away—increasing the risk for the patients. In an RTI application filed by Jammu-based activist and president of the Kisan Welfare Organisation, Rohit Choudhary, it has been revealed that there are only 30 beds in the Community Health Centre (CHC).
NewsClick visited the border villages to understand the difficulties the villagers are facing. In the Suchtegarh village, there is only one dispensary which is non-functional. The villagers told NewsClick that whenever a person is hit by a shell, the patient is redirected from the RS Pura hospital to government hospital n Jammu. They claimed that there have been many cases where the patients have even lost their lives.
Speaking to NewsClick, Chaudhary said, “The hospital is not able to accommodate injured patients because of the lack of manpower. The situation becomes all the more alarming and difficult when there is continuous shelling along the border.”
Even for the snake bites during the monsoon season, the patients have to go to Jammu, said the villagers. “We have many cases in our villages where our neighbours have lost their lives to poisonous snake bites because of lack of medicines and treatment at the only hospital in RS Pura,” a villager said, on the condition of anonymity.
The RTI response has also revealed that there are only 144 ambulances on the roads and 462 cases of snake bites have been recorded in the last nine years. “There are times when we are ferried in army jeeps because of the unavailability of ambulances. There is not even a dispensary for immediate relief and no specialist for us. All the successive governments have turned a blind eye to our misery. Journalists come and go; we protest too. But nobody listens,” said another villager.
Yesterday, two civilians were killed and nine injured during the shelling along the LOC border in Poonch.