The Telegraph
Saturday , July 10 , 2010
Since 1st March, 1999
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Nephew dead, curfew binds
Security personnel patrol a deserted Srinagar street during curfew on Friday. (PTI)

Srinagar, July 9: Shaheema Akhtar lies in a bed at the Valley’s premier Lal Ded maternity home, still oblivious of the death of her five-day-old son last night.

Sitting on the soiled bench outside, her brother Abdul Majeed Dar was living a nightmare till this afternoon.

Dar held a small wooden box close to his chest, the body of his nephew inside it, in a frustrating wait for a vehicle to take the baby to hometown Sopore for burial. With curfew outside, Dar had to spend hours waiting for one.

“My nephew died around 1pm last night and I have since been pleading for an ambulance. I could not hire a private vehicle because they are not allowed to ply during curfew,” he said.

Dar had to wait more than 12 hours for an ambulance, which was made available after journalists made frantic calls to higher-ups.

Shaheema had given birth six days ago at Lad Ded, the maternity wing of the government medical college, but the boy developed complications and died last night.

“His (the baby’s) father could not make it to the hospital because of the strict curfew. Earlier, when we had informed him he had become the father of a son, he was so happy. But he never saw him alive,” Dar said.

The family has been through a crisis these six days at the hospital and claimed they had to go to sleep on an empty stomach at times.

After the baby’s death began another ordeal. “I begged for an ambulance but was told there was none,” Dar said. “They were only entertaining the rich. I spent the night on the bench.”

Dar said he was yet to tell his sister of the baby’s death. “She is ailing and will die (if told).”

The state medical education minister said he had rung up the medical college principal immediately after learning about Dar’s troubles.

Hospital sources said an ambulance was provided after intervention from higher-ups.

“We are helpless. Because of the curfew, we have been getting calls for ambulances from across the Valley,” a doctor said.

He said the patients and their attendants were facing huge problems because of the curfew.

“Two patients, Khalida from Kupwara and Naseema from Khag, had intra-uterine deaths (of their foetuses) because they could not reach hospital in time,” the doctor said.

“Two days ago, when an attendant stepped out of the hospital to get medicine, he was severely thrashed by the CRPF men outside.”

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