Thursday, January 8, 2009

Doctors join the protests



Saima Khan marches with her white apron carefully folded over her arm alongside hundreds of other doctors. She doesn’t carry a stethoscope today, in fact none of them does. Instead, there are colored placards raised from their hands and pro freedom slogans escaping their lips. Saima is a 4th semester medical student and it is the first time she has come out to protest. In fact, it is the first pro freedom protest of Kashmiri Doctors and Government Medical College (GMC) students of Kashmir.


After Friday prayers, scores of doctors and medical students from GMC, Srinagar came out on the road shouting slogans for Azaadi. The protest march was organized by the medical fraternity which includes doctors, senior specialists, registrars, Post Graduate students, paramedics and all ministerial staff of GMC. The protestors marched around the streets of Karan Nagar shouting ‘We want freedom’ and ‘Indian forces go back’.


The young medical students were angry at the way security forces had dealt with the recent protests in Srinagar. “I saw how the security forces had shot unarmed Kashmiri protestors in their heads and chests. The last month of my duty changed me completely when I saw bullet wounds and deaths”, says an intern doctor, Muzzafar.


Several female students and doctors were a part of the protest as well. “Our parents only asked us to be careful but did not stop us from joining this march. We don’t want to live with India”, says Saima.


As the procession kept moving, other people began to join in. When the procession had marched for two lanes only, the size of the protestors swelled considerably. The roads were lined by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) troopers but the protestors avoided any confrontation with them. They however kept shouting slogans against the security forces. “They (CRPF) can kill a few hundred or thousand more Kashmiris but they will never be able to kill the spirit of freedom in Kashmiris”, says an animated Adil Khan, a young doctor. “I and my colleagues have seen 14 year boys writhing in pain because of bullet injuries and we understood how things are divided on a communal basis. But when Indian soldiers come to us for treatment, we treat them the way we would treat our own people.”


Several doctors took videos of the processions with their own cameras and phones. “We have made our own blog where in we wrote everything tat we saw in hospitals as doctors. We have started uploading videos and pictures on the internet”, says a senior doctor. “The moment the march ends, some of us will rush to our computers and protest online”, another doctor adds. 

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