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Flawed teaching! Kashmir’s psychologists carry degrees but counseling not their cup of tea

Hirra Azmat




Srinagar, Oct 9: In absence of a practical-based approach, the educational institutes in Kashmir produce psychologists who are unfit to counsel the region’s rising population of mental-health cases.

According to a study by the Government Medical College Srinagar, nearly 11 per cent of Kashmir’s population suffer mental-health disorders, which is more than the national average in India.

Every year, around 62 students pass Kashmir University (KU) and hundreds more the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) with Masters in psychology.


Yet the valley is short of psychologists, as the degree holders find themselves incompetent in a clinical setup.

Ashfaq Qureshi, a counselor at Centre for Mental Health Services (CMHS), said, “I did my masters from KU, but before joining the training programme, I was completely blank. I knew the theoretical part, but couldn’t deliver it in the field.”

“Our institutions lack training in trauma-focused counselling. There is no teaching of skills of working with children and the emotionally overwhelming nature of the work. Sadly so, neither the curriculum for psychiatrists, psychologists or counsellors, doesn’t include training of self-care, which is critical to continuing work with trauma clients.”

Another counselor at CMHS, Tabinda Tariq, said, “I did my postgraduation from IGNOU. Whatever I learnt, it is because of the training programme. Few lectures on Sundays and very less practical work is what the course offered, and I am afraid it wasn’t much helpful.”

Joziya Khan, who is pursuing her M Phil in child and adolescence from Amity University, said, “Mental illness in the Valley remains neglected and invisible, associated with shame and stigma. Millions suffer in silence without access to basic medicines and health care.”

Khan said that the lack of training to manage common psychiatric conditions in the institutions is a major lacuna in curriculum. “It has spawned many short courses, which transfer knowledge, rather than skill and confidence, to physicians.”

Ishrat, who works as counselor at District hospital Shopain said, “The emphasis on theoretical part has resulted in a transmission of knowledge without proficiency and confidence during basic medical training. “

She said, “It results in a lack of acquisition of skills required for independent practice.”

Doctor Muzzfar, who is Consultant at Help Foundation and Director of Police Drug De-Addiction Centre, said, “Medical education needs to be skill-based to produce competent practitioners. The strengthening of the general health infrastructure, to improve primary health care delivery, is mandatory for the effective integration of mental health into primary care practice is the need of the hour.”

He said, “Educating the population about mental illness using the mass media will erase stigma and increase the demand for services.”

Nighat Shafi, Chairperson Help Foundation, echoed similar views, saying, “The students who attend our training sessions always complain they have only been taught the theoretical part. Practical training should be worked upon, so that we have better counselors to deal with the mental health problems.”



ASI among three cops injured in Rajbagh grenade blast



Srinagar, Jan 17: Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) of police and two traffic cop were injured in a grenade blast near Zero Bridge in Rajbagh area of Srinagar city in Central Kashmir on Thursday afternoon.
Reports said that suspected militants lobbed a grenade on police party near Zero Bridge in Rajbagh.
In the blast, three policemen including an ASI of police and two traffic policemen sustained splinter injuries and were evacuated to SMHS hospital for treatment.
The injured has been identified as Iqbal Singh (ASI of JKAP 14 Bn) and traffic policemen Haris Manzoor (SPO) and Sanullah (Head Constable).
While ASI Iqbal has sustained splinter injuries to both of his legs, Haris suffered an injury to the back side of his neck and Sanullah suffered injuries in his right leg.
SSP Srinagar Imtiaz Ismail Parray confirmed the attack and subsequent injuries to the ASI and two traffic cops.
Soon after the attack, the government forces cordoned off the area and launched a hunt to nab the attackers.
Security forces have launched a massive search operation in Rajbagh and adjoining areas near Zero Bridge after three police personnel including assistant sub-inspector were injured in a grenade attack by the terrorists on Thursday.
Homes and hotels in the area were searched frisking was also carried out. It was the first major terrorist attack in the Srinagar city this year. The injured cops are undergoing treatment at the hospital.
Meanwhile Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) has claimed responsibly of the grenade attack on the forces’ party at Raj Bagh area of Srinagar.
A JeM spokesperson Muhammad Hassan in a statement claimed that two forces personnel were killed and 6 critically injured in the attack.
An ASI of police and two traffic cops were injured in a grenade blast near Zero Bridge, Raj Bagh in Thursday afternoon.

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2018 has been remarkable year for forces: Army commander

Global News Service



Srinagar, Jan 17: A top army commander on Thursday described 2018 as “remarkable year” for government forces, saying that more than 250 militants were killed, 54 others were arrested and four others surrendered in Kashmir Valley.
“The year 2018 has been a remarkable year for armed forces on the security front. As per the record of last ten years, army along with other forces have neutralized many militants. Many militants have surrendered under pressure and many others were arrested alive,” said Lt Gen Ranbir Singh, GoC-in-C Northern Command told reporters after inaugurating Kalai Bridge constructed by Border Roads Organization.
“More than 250 militants were killed, 54 others arrested and four others have surrendered,” he said, adding, “This speaks about the strength of our security establishment,” the officer said.
He said that the army was giving “befitting reply” to Pakistan army along the Line of Control whenever there were instances of any ceasefire violation or snipping.
“As per wireless and other intercepts, Pakistan army and militants suffered a huge loss in our retaliatory action.”
The Kalai Bridge spans over Suran River and connects Kalai area to Chandak area in Poonch district. During the inaugural function, the Army Commander addressed the gathering of Army, GREF and local residents and said that the Kalai bridge is an important milestone towards enhancing the road communication in the area.
“The bridge is an important strategic asset as it enhances the movement of military equipment and troops in a faster time frame,” he said. The Indian Army and BRO have been working towards infrastructure development in the remote and far-flung areas and improving the road connectivity, he said.
“The bridge will reduce traffic congestion in the city and ease out inconvenience caused to the people specially those moving towards Budha Amarnath Shrine in Mandi as it reduces the travelling time considerably.”
The Army Commander appreciated the contribution of the District Administration for their support and cooperation during the construction of the bridge.


Beg to differ: Omar Abdullah


Srinagar, Jan 17: Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and National Conference (NC) vice-president Omar Abdullah on Thursday lashed out at the Northern Command Chief Lt General Ranbir Singh, on his “great year for security forces” remark.
Taking to Twitter, Abdullah wrote, the compulsion of killing militants/terrorists shouldn’t be treated as a cause for celebration.
“I beg to differ, a great year would be one in which no young man would join militancy, no terrorists would be killed & no security personnel would lose their lives in encounters. The compulsion of killing militants/terrorists shouldn’t be treated as a cause for celebration,” Abdullah wrote.
Abdullah was reacting to a statement by Gen Singh on the sidelines of the inauguration of the Kalai bridge in Poonch district. Gen Singh said 2018 had been a great year for the security forces as they had managed to kill 250 terrorists.

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Heartening to meet Kashmiri students in Bangladesh: Shahid Afridi




Srinagar, Jan 17: Star Pakistan cricketer Shahid Afridi on Thursday met Kashmiri students in Bangladesh and interacted with them.

Afridi said that it was heartening to see Kashmiri students in Bangladesh who are studying medicine.“Heartening meeting with some Kashmiri students who are in Bangladesh on scholarship, studying Medicine. Keep up the hard work and making your people proud!,” he tweeted.

Afridi in the past has been in controversies over Kashmiri over his support to the Kashmir cause. He has been vocal about letting the people of Kashmir decide their future.

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