As Kashmir reeled under strict curfew and number of injured swelled in hospitals, young men, joined by different NGOs, volunteered themselves to arrange medicines & food for patients and attendants, at a time when J&K Government was missing on the ground

socie1

|| RIYAZ KHAN

        As Kashmir reels under curfew and the number of injured swell in hospitals hundreds of volunteers came together in Srinagar Islamabad district to arrange food and medical treatment for the persons injured in the protests that rocked the Valley following the July 8 killing of Hizbul Mujahedeen commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani. Scores of the volunteers and NGOs erected tents in the hospitals premises to see to the requirements of the needy when police and paramilitary forces had enforced strict curfew across the Valley making it impossible for people to move out of hospitals in search of food and medicines. “These volunteers are all common people.

        They have all been moved by the tragedy that has struck Kashmir and want to help the people in need in one or other way,” said a senior administrator at the SMHS hospital which has treated more than 2000 people in the past 20 days following the Burhan’s killing. Sajjad Ahmad, a government employee from uptown area of Natipora said he and scores of his friends and acquaintances made contributions from their own pockets and received donations from scores of people, for providing food to injured and their attendants at the SMHS hospital.

       The Valley has been on the boil after Burhan’s death with 50 civilians getting killed and over 4000 injured in action by police and CRPF on the protestors in past 20 days. In one of the largest clampdown in Kashmir, from July 9, the state government suspended communication services and enforced strict curfew in a bid to stop people from moving out of their houses to protests against the Burhan’s killing. Amid the curfew not only did the health department faced problems in ferrying injured to the hospitals, it became impossible for people to visit hospitals. “This was a challenge for the people of Kashmir who have always stood together in trying times,” said Mushtaq Ahmad who along with several local youth set up a voluntarily group in Islamabad to provide food and medicines to injured who were being treated at the district hospital in the south Kashmir district.

        Apart from the volunteers, many NGOs – Help Poor Voluntary Trust (HPVT), Tawheed Forum J&K, Athrout, Sakhawat, Allama Iqbal Charitable Medical and Diagnostic Centre, Jamiat Ahl-e-Hadees, Rafiq Baitul Maal and Daarul Khair – joined in to providing medicines, some of them costly, which were not available in hospitals. “We have been distributing the medicine free of cost for the past two weeks.

Not only at the SMHS which received maximum number of injured persons, some of them critical, the NGOs and other volunteer groups also provided free medicines to the injred at Bone & Joint Hospital, SKIMS Bemina and other district hospitals across Kashmir.

         It was our responsibility in these trying times to help the injured persons as the markets were shut and there was no access to medicines including life saving drugs,” said a member of Athrout, stressing the medicines included some lifesaving drugs. Not only at the SMHS which received maximum number of injured persons, some of them critical, the NGOs and other volunteer groups also provided free medicines to the injred at Bone & Joint Hospital, SKIMS Bemina and other district hospitals across Kashmir. Most of these volunteers are educated and they come from medical background. At every hospital these volunteers have divided themselves into different teams. While one team looks after the needs of the injured inside the hospital, another team ferries the patients while as a separate team has been kept on the stand-by mode for any emergency and for buying medicines.

        Talking to Kashmir Leader, the patients and their attendants appreciated the gesture of these volunteers and NGOs for supporting them at a time when the government “abandoned” them in the hospital. “Apart from the doctors who worked day in and day out to save lives, we are thankful to the volunteers and these NGOs who ensured that every inured person gets medicine in time,” said Farooq Ahmad from Kulgam. Ahmad’s son was critically injured in the firing by the forces on the protestors on July 10. “They provided us with every medicine that was prescribed to my son by the doctors,” said Ahmad who is attending to his injured son in the hospital for past 18 days. “Besides medicines, these organization and volunteers have been providing food for the injured persons and the attendants,” he said.