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Humanity First!In anxious Kashmir, this free ambulance service exemplifies hope

Monitor News Bureau

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Ishfaq-ul-Hassan

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.


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Kashmir

Vijay Kumar appointed senior security adviser in home ministry

Press Trust of India

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New Delhi, December 6: Former adviser to the Governor of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, K Vijay Kumar, has been appointed as a senior security adviser in the Union Home Ministry headed by Amit Shah, an official order said.

The 1975-batch officer of the Indian Police Service will “advise the ministry on security-related matters of Union Territory of J-K and Left Wing Extremism (LWE)-affected states,” the order said.The appointment order issued by the Union Home Ministry on December 3 stated that 67-year-old Kumar would be in the position for a period of one year from the date of his taking charge.

Kumar has served as the Director General of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Director of the National Police Academy in Hyderabad and his most talked-about stint was as the chief of the Tamil Nadu police special task force that killed forest brigand Veerappan in 2004.After his retirement from service and as DG, CRPF, in 2012, Kumar was appointed senior security adviser (LWE) in the Home Ministry then headed by Rajnath Singh.

 
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Kashmir

Centre plans to build 11 new airports in J&K, 2 in Ladakh

Press Trust of India

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New Delhi, Dec 5: As many as 11 airports in Jammu and Kashmir, and two in Ladakh have been put up for bidding under the fourth round of the regional air connectivity scheme, according to a release.

So far, 688 routes have been awarded to various air operators under the Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik (UDAN) that seeks to connect unserved as well as underserved destinations and also make flying more affordable.

The civil aviation ministry announced the fourth round of UDAN bidding on Tuesday and the focus is on North East Region, hilly states, J&K and Ladakh.

 

Under UDAN 4.0, the ministry has put on offer bids for 11 unserved airports in J&K and 2 underserved airports in Ladakh region, as per the official release issued on Thursday.

The 11 airports in J&K are Akhnur, Chamb, Chushal, Fukche, Gurex, Jhangar, Miran Sahib, Panzgam, Poonch, Rajouri and Udhampur.

The two aerodromes in Ladakh are at Kargil and Thoise.

“The objective is to establish strong air connectivity and to boost the tourism sector,” the release said.

J&K and Ladakh are now union territories.

For UDAN 4.0, initial proposals can be submitted till January 1, 2020, and counter proposals till January 13.

The declaration of selected airline operator and issue of letter of award (LoA) would be done on January 31, 2020.

Among other incentives, the ministry would be extending additional viability gap funding of around 25 per cent to the participating airlines under UDAN 4.0.

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Kashmir

Post offices in JK fully functional: Prasad

Agencies

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New Delhi, Dec 5: The total number of post offices in Kashmir is 698 and all are currently functional, the Minister of Communications and electronics and Information Technology, Ravi Shankar Prasad, said on Thursday.

Replying to a query in Rajya Sabha, Prasad said there was no suspension of postal services in Kashmir post August 5.

“However, to regulate the inward mail traffic and electronic money orders, the Department of Posts temporarily suspended booking and transmission of Speed Post, Registered Post and Parcels from August 5 to August 18 and booking of electronic money orders to Kashmir from August 13 to August 27 August, on account of operational reasons, the minister said.

 

Department of Posts resumed inward mail services to Kashmir from the rest of country from August 19 and electronic money orders from August 28.

He also said that the government took various steps for functioning of the Post Offices to service courts and other institutions. Both wings of the High Court of Jammu & Kashmir that is Jammu wing and Srinagar Wing and all the District Courts in Jammu, Kashmir regions have been functioning normally before and after August 5.

He said that mail vehicle schedules of Kashmir have been rescheduled to forward mail bags to all the post offices during early hours of the day to avoid any damage or loss to mail vehicles, mail bags and staff. This enabled delivery of mail in all delivery areas.

The minister stressed concerned authorities have been requested to activate mobile and landline numbers of Post offices and Postmasters to provide basic postal services.

Special mail arrangements have been made with Jammu & Kashmir State Road Transport Corporation, to carry mail bags from August 18 onwards from Jammu to Srinagar.

“Monitoring of daily operations of post offices through daily reports from all the postal divisions was made and basic postal operations have been ensured for public. Pay and allowances to staff of Kashmir working in the Department of Posts are being paid regularly,” the minister said.

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