Hospitals in the Kashmir Valley witnessed heart-warming scenes on Wednesday when police officers and personnel greeted doctors with red roses and flower bouquets, a day after doctors held protests against growing incidents of harassment at the hands of policemen during the ongoing COVID-19 lockdown.
Holding flowers in hands, police personnel queued up outside the Valley’s main maternity hospital, Lal Ded, and welcomed doctors with roses, as they drove in.
There were similar scenes in south Kashmir’s Government Medical College, Anantnag, where Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Sandeep Chowdhary conveyed appreciation to all COVID-19 warriors. SSP, Awantipora, Tahir Saleem, presented sweets and bouquet of flowers to the Block Medical Officer “for the excellent service rendered by doctors.”
In north Kashmir, SSP, Bandipora, Rahul Malik, presented flower bouquets “as a goodwill gesture.” A Block Medical Officer (BMO) in Bandipora on Tuesday alleged he was denied permission for 20 minutes at a checkpoint when he was heading to a COVID-19 centre.
In central Kashmir’s Ganderbal, SSP Khalil Poswal, while presenting flowers and sweets to doctors, said, “All checkpoints have been briefed to facilitate the smooth passage of COVID warriors.”
Dr. Salim Khan, nodal officer for COVID-19 at the Valley’s main tertiary care hospital, Shri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital, said, “The police gesture should lay down the foundation for better understanding of each other’s roles with compassion and shunning hostility, else it would be construed as damage control and public relation tactics. Each need to shun ego while dealing with each other and the public.”
Inspector General of Police, Kashmir, Vijay Kumar said that by offering flowers and sweets, the policemen deployed on the ground intended to send a message to the society, especially doctors and paramedics, that they were with them.
“We will facilitate them to the maximum extent to serve the people. We will consider even identity cards of COVID warriors as passes,” Mr. Kumar told The Hindu .
He, however, stressed that the lockdown duties in Kashmir were entirely different from the rest of country. “Militants have attacked several times at our COVID-related checkpoints. We have lost a few of our bravehearts,” the IGP added.
The past one week saw three major incidents in the Valley where on-duty doctors were either stopped, thrashed or detained by the police, evoking strong protests. It seems the police drive is aimed at winning back hearts and minds of the agitated doctors.