Dr Tahira Khanam

Dr Tahira Khanam, a household name in Kashmir and one of the leading gynecologist breaths her last on Wednesday. She was 84. Dr Khanam qualified as gynecologist from Gwalior in 1956, which listed her amongst first Kashmiri Muslim women to do so.

Her work in female feticide has earned her appreciation and awards from a number of US based organizations working in this field. Survived by two sons, both settled in US now, Dr Khanam successfully created a network of health care centers and charitable institutions across Kashmir.

In 1969, Dr Khanam and her husband Abdul Aziz Dar, a post graduate, conceived the idea of establishing a Maternity Home – the first one in private sector in Kashmir. The hospital earned the distinction of getting established without any financial assistance from state government.

Later it got converted into a full-fledged hospital catering to hundreds of patients every day. In the meantime Khanam’s established six public high schools in villages which now has over 3000 students.

Khanams also made its presence felt in the industrial sector by establishing Silk Reeling, Silk Weaving, Wool Fabric Manufacturing and Knitting & Hosiery small scale industrial units. This helped hundreds get direct and indirect employment. During troubled 1990’s Khanam’s family established a number of primary, secondary and college level educational institutions.

These institutions offer a range of medical, surgical, advice and assistance to thousands each year. They train hundreds of Paramedicos such as nurses, La. technicians etc. These colleges offer post graduate courses in education (B.Ed) etc.

People who knew Dr Khanam personally termed her demise a great loss for Kashmir. She was known as a gem and a lady with great heart.

“Medical fraternity has lost a gem, she was an excellent doctor with a perfect clinical acumen and a good human being,” said Farhat Jabeen, senior gynecologist.

Dr Khanam’s illustrious career spanned over more than five decades which helped her become a household name in Kashmir.  A senior doctor based in Srinagar termed Dr Khanam ‘a pioneer in healthcare sector who helped streamline the private healthcare in Kashmir in 1960’s’.

Apart from a hospital dedicated to gynecology Dr Khanam’s invested her time and energy in creating a chain of educational and paramedical institutions across Kashmir.

People close to her know Dr Khanam as a philanthropist who would help people without bias. The way she dealt with patients is hailed by one and all, said a close friend.

She was known for striking a personal cord with patients and helping them wholeheartedly. Her way of dealing with patients was unique as she would build a long term relationship them rather than just being a doctor.

Family sources told Dr Khanam was visited by her son’s days before her death. After the news of her death became public, a number of people rushed to her residence recounting stories of her kind nature. “She used to help a number of people financially without making a fuss about it,” said one of the mourners.

Bidding farewell, a mourner at Dr Khanam’s funeral hailed the lady doctor as a ‘legend’ who dedicated her entire life for the service of Kashmiris.

– Umar Mukhtar

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