Kashmir: Attempt to occupy hospital frustrated

Srinagar: Following stiff resistance by employees and local residents, the police and security forces were forced to vacate a 100- bed government-run maternity hospital in north Kashmir’s Sopore town which they had occupied on February 5 “We heaved a sigh of relief after security forces and police left the hospital premises. Being health institutions, hospitals ought to be kept away from all such things”, said a group of residents in the town.

Shutdown and protests broke out in the area demanding that security forces vacate the hospital premises. Shutdown was observed here on February 7 against ‘occupation’ of a maternity hospital by Special Operations Group (SOG) of police in the town.

Life remained crippled in the town. Even if no separatist group had called for a shutdown; markets, shops and business establishments remained closed and traffic went off the roads. Residents demanded that the building of ‘Mother and Child’ hospital allegedly occupied by SOG should be restored to hospital authorities. Scores of youth fought pitched battles with police and CRPF on February 6 against the alleged takeover and staged protest demonstrations.

“A large contingent of police and CRPF laid siege around the hospital in Sopore on the night of February 5. Soon it was taken over by police leaving only Out Patient Department (OPD) operational. Patients and staff members too were asked to vacate the building”, said eye-witnesses.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 March 2011 on page no. 15

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