Srinagar: Syed Maqbool, a senior interventional cardiologist at Srinagar’s Super Speciality Hospital (SSH), alleged that he was beaten up by the police on Saturday, and was “mentally tortured” at the police station Zadibal for about eight hours.
The 50-year-old was designated cardiologist for on-call consultation at Shri Maharaja Hari Singh hospital and its associated hospitals, on that day and despite repeated requests, he told The Kashmir Walla, he wasn’t “allowed by the police to inform at the hospital” of his unavailability.
On Saturday morning, Dr. Mushtaq was driving his Jeep Compass–wearing a Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)–when he was stopped at a checkpoint in Hawal, Srinagar. “A constable asked me to turn back and take some other route,” said Dr. Maqbool.
Though he “requested” that he “was getting late for the duty” and showed his medical staff identity card, the duty-rooster, in addition to the pasted red-cross on his vehicle, the police constable denied. “It doesn’t matter if you are a doctor, what will you do?” the constable had asked Dr. Maqbool, he said.
When Dr. Maqbool got out of his car, asking to speak to the senior officer, “the constable hit me in the belly with his baton.” The Station House Officer (SHO), Zadibal, who was standing on the sideway, said Dr. Maqbool, came running in. “He sat with me in my vehicle, with two constables, and asked me to drive to the police station,” Dr. Maqbool said.
At 10:30 am, the doctor was lodged inside the police station, and his phones were snatched by the SHO, he said. “I requested [and explained that I was on an urgent duty] to at least inform the hospital that I won’t come,” he said, “but I wasn’t allowed to make any call.”
In turn, Dr. Maqbool alleged, the SHO replied, “Let your patients and the hospital go to hell, I don’t care. You doctors are thieves and indulge only in selling duplicate medicines.”
Dr. Maqbool, who has not been going home regularly since the outbreak in Kashmir fearing that he might infect his family, says the SHO’s words, speared his heart like a bullet. “Was I going to a casino?” he asked, frustratingly. “Was I going shopping? I was going on my duty during a pandemic.”
Since the COVID-19 outbreak, the frontline healthcare workers across the world are acknowledged and honored for their dedication towards the work. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also asked the countrymen to pull-off stunts such as banging utensils and lightning lamps as a gesture of gratitude towards the healthcare workers.
Last week, the ambulance driver, Tariq Ahmad, was beaten up by the police when he was on his way from Shopian to nearby Pulwama to pick up two people who were put under administrative quarantine.
Although, after some time, the Dr. Maqbool said, he understood that the SHO “won’t understand the emergency”. “I started apologising,” he said, “and requested again to speak at the hospital.” At about 3:30 pm, he called the hospital, but at SHO’s condition: “I will bang your head with my baton if you tell anyone you’re at the police station.”
Being a professional doctor, Dr. Maqbool agreed, and told the hospital that his child was sick and he won’t be able to make it to the emergency cases–awaiting him at the hospital.
By 6 pm, the doctor said, his brother walked down to the police station “after he came to know of my detention from somewhere”. He was let go after signing a “bail document”, but his vehicle was kept at the station. Hence, Dr. Maqbool said he had to walk down to the hospital.
Till next noon, on Eid, he performed at least three surgeries and attended other on-call consultations. “It was very difficult for me. Initially, I couldn’t think properly but I’m a professional and I understand my duties in the emergency situations,” he added.
He filed a written complaint with principal Government Medical College, Dr. Samia Rashid, who referred it to Srinagar District Magistrate, Shahid Choudhary.
Speaking to The Kashmir Walla, Dr. Rashid, said, “If the police are behaving [with the frontline workers] this way, then the god help this society.” She further added that the healthcare workers at the hospital were threatening a strike but she convinced them against it “because we are fighting a war”.
“We are frontline warriors, we won’t be able to deliver [in these conditions],” she added. “It obviously affects the morale of healthcare workers.”
Meanwhile, he is yet to hear back on the complaint from the officials, a complaint has been registered against him, revealed the Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Srinagar, Haseeb Moghul to a local news agency, Kashmir News Observer, “for manhandling the SHO.” “I have asked SP Hazratbal to look into the issue and submit a report,” added the SSP.
Dr. Maqbool also said that the Inspector General of Police (Kashmir), Vijay Kumar, had apologised for the incident. “He said that the due action will be taken and justice will be delivered.”