Hospitals overwhelmed as clashes continue in Kashmir

Clashes between protesters and Indian security forces continues with some victims saying they are being beaten in their own homes by Indian troops.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Women leave a hospital in Srinagar as the city remains under curfew following weeks of violence in Kashmir on August 19, 2016.

Hospitals in Indian-administered Kashmir are overwhelmed after clashes that continued for more than 40 days between protesters and Indian security forces.

Some of the patients said they had been beaten in their homes by Indian troops.

House searches continued on Friday, authorities said, for suspected ringleaders of street protests set off by the killing on July 8 of a popular field commander of a Pakistan-based group.

An injured man is rushed to a hospital after he was injured during clashes between police and protesters, in Srinagar on August 5, 2016. Image: Reuters.

As a result of the ongoing clashes, at least 65 people have been killed and 6,000 injured.

Many of them were wounded by shotgun rounds fired by Indian security forces who enforced a curfew across the Muslim-majority region.

The Indian army has apologised for the death in custody of Shabir Ahmad Mangoo, a 30-year-old college lecturer.

India's security laws grant wide discretion to the armed forces in "disturbed" areas such as Kashmir.

Human rights activists say those who are responsible for excessive violence are hardly ever brought to justice.

Parents comfort their son whom they say was wounded by pellets shot by security forces in Srinagar, August 18, 2016. Image: Reuters.

Exhausted Doctors

Hospital doctors are overworked and exhausted, with one saying they had performed more eye operations in the past month than they had over the last three years.

"We are in physical and mental stress," said Nisarul Hassan, senior consultant at SMHS Hospital who was forced to use an ambulance to get home.

Graffiti is painted on shop shutters in Srinagar after an escalation of violence between protesters and Indian security forces in Kashmir. Image: Reuters

The injured were received by dozens of volunteers at the hospital, as ambulances brought them in from rural areas. 

Paramedics and ambulance drivers said they were attacked by government forces on the way.

The curfew restricts movement, making daily life very difficult.

"India and Pakistan are fighting over my homeland but in the end it is only our blood that they manage to secure," said Faizal Wani, 24, whose father was being treated for pellet wounds suffered in the clashes.

An emergency vehicle passes a security checkpoint in Srinagar after an escalation of clashes between Indian security forces and protesters. Image: Reuters

Another doctor said patients had been brought in with abdominal injuries from rifle bullets.

"Our operating theaters are working non-stop."

Troops have resorted to firing rifles and shotguns to quell stone-throwing protests sparked by the death of Burhan Wani, a field commander of the Hizbul Mujahideen group.

India's Central Reserve Police Force, which deploys a large contingent of paramilitaries in Kashmir, told a regional court that more than 100 people had been partly or completely blinded by shotgun pellets.

A girl who got injured in the clashes between police and protesters, reacts as she lies on a hospital bed, in Srinagar on July 14, 2016. Image: Reuters.

Kashmir is at the centre of a decades-old rivalry between India and Pakistan, which rules a northwestern section of the divided region, and backed an insurgency in the late 1980s and 1990s that Indian security forces largely crushed.

A UN human rights official has expressed "deep regret" at the failure of both India and Pakistan to grant access to the separate parts of Kashmir that each runs to investigate allegations of serious human rights violations.

TRTWorld and agencies