- Aiyer, Jha face resistance at SMHS hospital; Delegation says ‘We are here to listen to people’
- People’s anger in Kashmir genuine: Civil society delegation
A fact-finding non-governmental team from New Delhi arrived here on Thursday to meet civilians injured during the ongoing unrest in Kashmir. However, two members of the team—Mani Shankar Aiyar (MP) and Prem Shankar Jha (Journalist)— were not allowed to meet the injured by volunteers at SMHS hospital here.
Sources told Kashmir Post that the team comprising Aiyar, Jha,Vinod Sharma, MK Venu, Ruby Arun, Shabnam Hashmi (social activist,) Kapil Kak (Rtd Air Marshall), OP Shah and Muhammad Hassan Ul Bana (social activist) arrived here to what they said “listen to people in Kashmir.”
The delegation, according to sources, went to the SMHS hospital immediately after landing at the Srinagar Airport.
As soon as they reached the hospital, scores of ‘volunteers’ there did not allow them to go inside. Both Aiyar and Jha, according to witnesses, pleaded to allow them to enter the hospital. However the volunteers didn’t budge—something which invited some reaction from some medicos.
“They (volunteers) should limit their work to what they are supposed to do and not interfere in hospital matters,” said a medico. “This way they are doing disservice.”
Later, after intervention by medicos, a group of journalists who were part of the team were allowed to meet injured.
Talking to Kashmir Post, some members of the delegation said they have come here to listen to people and “build the public opinion for resolution of Kashmir issue.”
“The team has no plans to meet any political group from mainstream or separatist camp,” they said.
Aiyar had recently advised New Delhi to stop blaming Pakistan for Kashmir unrest and start an unconditional parallel dialogue with both Pakistan and separatist leadership of Kashmir.
Meanwhile, after getting a hostile reception at SMHS hospital, a delegation of prominent civil society members who had gone to meet the persons injured by government forces Wednesday termed the anger of people in Kashmir valley as genuine.
The delegation comprising Congress MP, Mani Shankar Aiyer, veteran journalist Prem Shankar Jha, Air Vice-Marshal (retd) Kapil Kak and others are on a two-day visit to Kashmir.
“We were expecting this. They are angry with the Indian government and they vented it on us. We will not blame anyone or say that this was sponsored,” spokesperson of the delegation said while referring to the angry reaction of the people at the hospital who raised anti-Indian slogans and asked the delegation to leave the hospital.
“The delegation had gone to see patients who have been hit with deadly pellets guns. But after the anger subsided, people allowed us to talk to them. The patients narrated how they were maimed and blinded by the forces,” he added.
A doctor at SMHS hospital, on the condition of anonymity, said the delegation had gone to see the patients at the ophthalmology ward where majority of the pellets victims are admitted. “But the volunteers working outside the ophthalmology ward didn’t allow the delegation to meet the patients and started raising anti-Indian slogans,” he said.
“Patients and the attendants also maintained distance from the delegation. Though a few journalists who were part of the delegation spoke to some attendants, but Prem Shankar Jha and Mani Shankar Aiyer left the hospital in a jiffy to avoid any trouble,” the doctor added.