Srinagar, Sep 23: 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 marshaling 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 situation 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 in to 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. Soon after offering Eid prayers at 6:15 am, 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.
During the first few weeks of the Kashmir lockdown that began August 5, reaching hospitals in emergency situation was the biggest challenge for the people given the strict restrictions under Section 144. And for those people whose loved ones passed away in the hospitals, ferrying their bodies was nothing short of an ordeal.
“We 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 have availed the free ambulances services of HPVT. 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 a tip of the iceberg. HPVT has been at the forefront of providing lifesaving drugs to the 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 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.
Doctors suspect jaundice outbreak in Batamaloo
Srinagar, Oct 12: Doctors are suspecting jaundice outbreak after 50 people were taken ill in Srinagar’s Batamaloo area.
Locals blame contaminated water for the outbreak in the area. Locals said untreated water, mixed with sewerage, was supplied to the households after an old pipeline was damaged in Syed Dawood Colony.
“We have very old water pipe in the area which has developed cracks. Recently a bulldozer damaged it completely. We have been visiting Public Health Engineering department to replace the pipeline but to no avail,” said Ghulam Rasool, a resident of Batamaloo.
Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Srinagar, Dr Talat Jabeen said that the blood samples of 50 people suspected of jaundice have been sent for the clinical examination.
“There is a broken water pipe due to which sewage water has got mixed with drinking water. People have been drinking the same water. We have sent an application to the PHE department and they have initiated repairing work,” Dr Jabeen said.
Health department has also sent its team to the area and for further investigation. “We are closely monitoring the situation. We are creating awareness through the mosques. We have also distributed chlorine tablets among the people,” the CMO said.
JK Congress to boycott BDC polls
The Congress on Wednesday decided to boycott the Block Development Council (BDC) elections in Jammu and Kashmir, citing “indifferent” attitude of the state administration and continued detention of senior party leaders.
The BDC polls is scheduled to be held in Jammu and Kashmir on October 24. These will be the first elections to be held in the state since its special status was revoked under Article 370 on August 5.
“The Congress believes in strengthening of democratic institutions and never shied away from any polls. But today, we are compelled to take a decision to boycott BDC polls due to indifferent attitude of the state administration and continued detention of senior party leaders in the valley,” state Congress president G.A. Mir told reporters in Jammu.
Mir, who was himself under house arrest in Jammu and was recently released, charged that the state administration deliberately created hurdles for mainstream parties in order to facilitate the win of the ruling BJP.
“They have kept leaders and cadres under detention and did not allow the political atmosphere and political activity to take place and the Congress was deliberately targeted in this exercise,” the PCC leader charged.
Despite expressing its reservation on the timing of the polls and ongoing security situation, the Congress along with the National Panthers party had last week decided to take part in the BDC elections.
Mir said the Congress had approached the State Election Commission to facilitate smooth movement of its leaders after deciding to take part in the exercise.
“We had issued letters to candidates for taking part in BDC polls so that we could contribute to the democratic exercise and some of our candidates also filed their nominations,” he said.
However, since today was the last day for filing of nomination papers by candidates, “we have decided to stay away from polls which should have been deferred taking into consideration the prevailing situation in the state as was demanded by all opposition political parties.”
Mainstream political leaders in the valley, including former chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, have been either detained or placed under house arrest since the government announced dilution of provisions of Article 370 over two months ago.
The state administration said last week that political leaders under house arrest in Kashmir will be released in a phased manner after proper analysis of every individual.
Day 66: Colleges reopen in Kashmir but students stay away
Srinagar, Oct 9: The efforts of the Jammu and Kashmir administration to reopen colleges in the Valley on Wednesday failed as students did not report to classwork, on the 66th consecutive day since the abrogation of the state”s special status under Article 370 on August 5.
Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Baseer Khan had last week announced that the schools would reopen on October 3 and the colleges on October 9 in Kashmir.
The staff reported for work at the colleges but the students stayed away, officials said.
Students also have not attended schools despite the administration”s several attempts.
The parents are reluctant to send their children to schools or colleges as they fear for their safety amid the shutdown and communication blackout in most parts of the valley.
On Wednesday, normal life continued to remain disrupted across Kashmir.
In the city, public transport remained off the roads but a massive traffic jam could be seen at the Jehangir Chowk crossing as private vehicles swarmed the commercial hub of Lal Chowk and surrounding areas.
To register their protest against the abrogation of the special status of the state, shopkeepers open their shops early in the morning till around 11.00 am and then down the shutters.
The shutdown has come as boon for the roadside vendors, who have been regularly setting up their stalls along the Residency Road and around the Polo View area of the city, witnessing a brisk footfall of customers.
While landline telephony services have been restored across the valley, mobile telephone services in most parts of Kashmir and all internet services continue to remain suspended since 5 August.
Most of the top level and second rung separatist politicians have been taken into preventive custody while mainstream leaders including two former chief ministers — Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti — have been either detained or placed under house arrest.
Another former chief minister and Lok Sabha MP from Srinagar Farooq Abdullah has been arrested under the controversial Public Safety act, a law enacted by his father and National Conference founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah in 1978 when he was the chief minister.