The Doctors Association in Kashmir (DAK) staged a protest against the rising harassment of healthcare workers on May 26, Tuesday. The doctors accused the police of “manhandling and harassing health care workers.” Several doctors have complained of mistreatment from the police, who often bar them from reaching their work amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
Doctors held placards with messages such as “They may stop us, beat us, strip us, arrest us but we will always be there for you.” The doctors’ body also announced that its members would wear black bands across Jammu and Kashmir on May 27 as a mark of protest against the harassment of healthcare professionals.
“Unfortunately the law enforcement agencies are violating the rules and regulations and are harassing the doctors,” the president of the DAK, Dr. Suhail Naikhe, said.
A number of doctors have allegedly been manhandled by the police over the past week. Samia Rashid, principal of the Government Medical College in Srinagar, noted, “The behavior of the police has been deplorable to say the least – we as frontline workers have been working day in and day out risking our lives and families only to be harassed…” She tweeted this immediately after an incident on May 23 during which Dr. Syed Maqbool, a senior cardiologist, was beaten up by policemen. This incident caused outrage across Kashmir, particularly in the medical fraternity. Messages of condemnation and solidarity also poured in over social media.
In another incident on Tuesday, chief medical officer of Bandipora, Dr. Tajamul Hussain, was stopped by the police when he was on his way to inspect a quarantine center and sample collection center in Bandipora. The video of the incident went viral on social media.
“The entire world is grappling with the coronavirus pandemic, doctors are dealing with the situation [at risk to their] lives. Doctors can’t stay in their homes. They have to attend to their patients, but the police don’t understand all this. I appeal to the administration and the police to allow us free movement,” said Dr. Syed Maqbool.