Srinagar: Inside a small room at the casualty block of Shri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) Hospital, 56-year-old Mohammad Ali Lone is giving important tips to his volunteers about patient care.
From ferrying stranded patients home to providing lifesaving drugs on discounted rates, Lone is marshalling his men to extend helping hand to poor, needy and the people in distress.
Lone’s Help Poor Voluntary Trust (HPVT) has been in the thick of things since the Kashmir lockdown began after Article 370 was scrapped and J&K was divided into two union territories on August 5.
“Before this situation unfolded, we used to get 20 to 25 calls for ambulances every day. After telecommunication services were suspended, we are receiving five to six cases daily. People now walk into our office for availing ambulance services,” said Lone.
A reputed agricultural scientist, who volunteers as social activist after his office hours, Lone is running free 24×7 ambulance services in six hospitals of Srinagar. With a fleet of 11 ambulances and 100 volunteers, Lone’s HPVT is proving to be a lifeline for the poor and ailing in the valley.
“We have been constantly on our toes. Let me cite an example. Earlier this month on the day of Eid, a local SHO informed me that there are two bodies lying in the hospital. I rushed to my office and arranged for their transport. One of the bodies was dispatched in a Tata Sumo cab. Another body was ferried in our ambulance to remote Kalaroos,” he said.
For the last almost four weeks days, Kashmir has been under strict lockdown. Reaching hospitals in an emergency situation has been the biggest challenge for the people given the strict restrictions. And for those people whose loved ones passed away in the hospitals, ferrying their bodies has been nothing short of an ordeal.
“We have ferried more than 41 bodies in our ambulances. Some of these bodies were sent to far-flung areas of the state. One of the bodies was sent to Kishtwar and another to Doda. The dead deserve respect,” said Lone.
Hundreds of patients and their attendants availed the free ambulances services of HPVT for the last 15 days. A large number of seriously ill patients were brought to hospitals from their homes as there was no transport facility available.
“We do not charge anything. If anyone wants to pay, he can. We mostly rely on Zakaat and Sadaqat. People pay their Zakaat and Sadaqat which enables us to provide services to the people in need,” said Lone.
Free ambulance service is just the tip of the iceberg. HPVT has been at the forefront of providing lifesaving drugs to poor patients at discounted rates.
“We charged Rs 1,925 to an accident victim against the medicine bill of Rs 3,825. Similarly a brick-kiln labourer from Lucknow, who suffered burn injuries at his workplace, was given 50 per cent discount on his medicine bills,” he said.
Even some poor patients, who do not have the means to pay for the treatment, are provided free medicines by the trust. For the HPVT volunteers, it is ‘humanity first’ that keeps them going in tough times.
UN chief could discuss Kashmir issue at UNGA: UN spokesman
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres is likely to use the opportunity of discussions during the high-level UN General Assembly session that begins here next week to raise the Kashmir issue, the UN chief’s spokesperson has said.
Spokesman for the Secretary-General Stephane Dujarric during the daily press briefing here on Thursday said that the UN chief has underscored the need for dialogue as the only way to resolve the issue and, “as part of the solution for the current crisis in Kashmir, to make sure that human rights aspects are very much dealt with, as well.”
“…On Kashmir, the Secretary General… has said previously, he remains engaged. I think he will also use the opportunity of discussions during the General Assembly to raise it,” Dujarric said, responding to a question on the situation in Kashmir.
On Wednesday, Guterres emphasised that “dialogue” between India and Pakistan is an “absolute essential element” for reaching a solution on the Kashmir issue, and said his good offices are available should both sides ask for it and called for full respect of human rights.
“Well, our capacity is related to good offices, and good offices can only be implemented when the parties accept it. And, on the other hand, it relates to advocacy, and the advocacy was expressed and will be maintained,” Guterres said during his press conference ahead of the UN General Assembly session.
Guterres was asked by a Pakistani journalist about the situation in Jammu and Kashmir and what will he do to bring a solution to the Kashmir issue.
“I go on with a clear opinion that human rights must be fully respected in the territory, and I go on with the clear opinion that dialogue between India and Pakistan is an absolutely essential element for the solution of the problem,” he said.
India has always maintained that Jammu and Kashmir is its integral part and ruled out any third party mediation, including either from the UN or the US, saying it is a bilateral issue with Pakistan.
The UN Secretary General has also repeatedly asserted that his good offices are available only if both sides ask for it.
Tension between India and Pakistan escalated after New Delhi revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status on August 5. Pakistan has downgraded diplomatic ties with New Delhi and expelled the Indian High Commissioner.
Pakistan has been trying to internationalise the Kashmir issue but India has asserted that the abrogation of Article 370 was its “internal matter”.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has vowed to raise the Kashmir issue at the UN General Assembly (UNGA) session in New York on September 27. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is also scheduled to speak on the same day.
Amid Kashmir tensions, India will participate at SAARC meeting in New York
NEW DELHI: Amid heightened Indo-Pak tensions, India will participate at the SAARC foreign ministers meeting scheduled to be held on September 26 on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session, officials said on Thursday.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan will be present in the US next week and will hold bilateral and multilateral meetings.
Officials said India will participate in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation foreign ministers meeting that is scheduled for September 26.
The meeting on the sidelines of the UNGA could bring Jaishankar and his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi face to face for the first time after the abrogation of Article 370 provisions.
Asked about a possible meeting with his Pakistani counterpart as well as the future of the SAARC regional grouping, Jaishankar, at a press conference earlier this week, had said, “if and when I meet Pakistani Foreign Minister, we will see at that time what happens”.
The SAARC is about regional cooperation and that refers to trade, MFN, connectivity etc.
, he had said, adding that now every member knows which country is promoting SAARC and which one is impeding it.
Last year, then External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had attended the SAARC Foreign Ministers meeting, usually held on the sidelines of the UNGA.
Plea alleges detention of children in Kashmir, SC seeks report
The Supreme Court on Friday sought a report from Jammu and Kashmir High Court on the alleged detention of children in Kashmir during curbs following the scrapping of Article 370 in the state on August 5.
Senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, representing child right activists Inakshi Ganguly and Shanta Sinha who have alleged detention of children in Kashmir, had on September 16 told the apex court that people in the Valley are not able to approach the high court there.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said it would entertain the petition regarding alleged detention of children in Kashmir as the plea has raised “substantial issues” regarding minors. The top court directed the Juvenile Justice Committee of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court to file a report before it within a week on the issue.
The Supreme Court also said it had received a report from the Chief Justice of Jammu and Kashmir High Court and claims that people are unable to access the court there are not supported.
“We have received the report from the chief justice (of Jammu and Kashmir High Court) which does not support your statement,” the bench also comprising justices S A Bobde and S A Nazeer told the counsel appearing for the petitioners.
The Supreme Court also sought response from the Jammu and Kashmir administration on a plea challenging detention of five persons in Kashmir following the abrogation of Article 370.
The bench asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who was appearing for the Jammu and Kashmir administration, to file his response.