40 ambulances attacked by security personnel, says Valley’s Health Director; DGP says will order a probe
Battling angry and violent crowds on the streets, the police and the CRPF have even targeted ambulances ferrying the injured and, in one case, they opened fire at the entrance to a hospital’s casualty ward.
While Director General of the J&K Police Kuldeep Khuda has said that there will be a probe, CRPF spokesman Prabhakar Tripathi denied the charge. “No such incident has come to our notice,” he said. This comes the day Inspector General, CRPF, S K Jain was shunted out of the Valley.
“These three days have been extremely challenging for us,” said Dr Muzaffar Ahmad, Director of Health Services, Kashmir. “Our 40 ambulances were attacked across Kashmir and most them have broken windscreens. Seven of our ambulance drivers were hurt as well.” The director of Srinagar’s Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) hospital, Dr Abdul Hameed Zargar, said that one of the hospital’s ambulances is still missing. “We are yet to trace it,” he said. “There have been several attacks on our ambulances by the security forces”.
Consider the following encounters:
• On August 11, J-K Police personnel fired tear-smoke shells inside the casualty ward of the Shri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) hospital in Srinagar. “There was a rush of wounded and our doctors and paramedic staff was busy treating them when tear-smoke landed inside the casualty ward,” said SMHS Medical Superintendent Dr Wasim Qureshi. “We had to stop work for some time.
There was a lot of inconvenience to both patients and our staff. This should not happen”. He said that after this incident, hospital attendants were enraged and ransacked CRPF bunkers in the hospital premises.
• On August 12, an ambulance (JK01C 5641) carrying protestors with bullet wounds from Bandipore was attacked at Parimpora by the CRPF. “We were carrying two critically wounded persons in the ambulance,” Dr Asif Ahmad told The Indian Express. “When we reached Parimpora, there was a huge procession. We stopped. The people cleared the way for us. Then the CRPF persons were standing a few dozen metres away,” he said. “When we were close to them, they opened fire on the ambulance. Within seconds, a few CRPF men pounced on the ambulance and started hitting everybody inside. They even assaulted the wounded. One of the wounded died there”. Ahmad said he jumped from the vehicle and rushed inside a house for safety. “A stone hit ambulance driver Mohammad Shaban Para and he was seriously injured”. Director Health Services Dr Muzaffar Ahmad confirmed the incident. “Our people had a close shave there,” he said.
• On August 12, CRPF personnel stopped an ambulance ferrying wounded protestors at Rambagh on the Airport road in Srinagar. The CRPF contingent attacked an ambulance with rifle-butts in front of a senior officer Commandant P S Rajora, broke its windshield and assaulted the wounded persons and the attendants in front of a large media crew including this correspondent. “I am unable to do anything. I am trying to stop them (the men),” Rajora told The Indian Express soon after the ambulance and the injured patients were rescued by personnel of the J-K Police, who rushed to intervene. “We were only trying to impose the curfew”.
• On August 12, J-K Police and CRPF men barged into the premises of the District Hospital in Baramulla. “They fired inside the hospital,” Dr Nisar Ahmad, an orthopaedic surgeon at the hospital told The Indian Express. “We rushed out of the Operation Theatre. We were frightened for our lives”.
• On August 12, police and CRPF men stopped an ambulance and beat patients and their attendants after dragging them out during a pitched battle with protestors at Qamarwari in Srinagar city.
• On August 13, an ambulance of the Jhelum Valley hospital — an associate hospital of the SKIMS — was fired upon by the CRPF near Boatman Colony in the city outskirts while it was ferrying a patient with bullet wounds. “The CRPF men first opened fire at our ambulance and then charged in and broke the windscreens with rifle-butts. Then they started beating us, even the patient was hit,” said Mushtaq Ahmad, in charge of immunization at the Jhelum hospital. “There was an Inspector accompanying them”. Driver of the ambulance Mohammad Shafi said: “It has never happened in these years.”
• On August 13, the J-K Police opened fire at the entrance of the Casualty ward of the SMHS hospital in Srinagar, where a large angry crowd of relatives of the injured had gathered. “The people are infuriated and when they saw a police vehicle inside the hospital compound, they attacked it. The police opened fire. But nobody was injured,” SMHS Medical Superintendent Dr Qureshi said.
DGP Khuda said that they were investigating all incidents of attacks on ambulances and hospitals. Speaking to The Indian Express, Inspector General of J-K Police S M Sahai said that the police have taken up the August 12 Rambagh incident with authorities at the highest level. “After we got reports that an officer was there, we have already taken action,” he said. “We are probing every case where we received reports of excesses”.
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