Riyaz Ul Khaliq
Inviting laughter from across benches in lower house of JK legislature on Monday, independent lawmaker Er Sheikh Ab Rasheed ridiculed how National Conference founder, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah was “compatible” with autocrat Maharaj Hari Singh.
Participating in debate over grants to health sector, the Langate lawmaker asked government to either change name of SKIMS Soura or SMHS Karan Nagar. “How is democrat Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah compatible with autocrat Maharaja Hari Singh?” he asked the lawmakers present in the house.
“The duo fought against each other and the successive governments have named institutions after them,” Rasheed said.
The tertiary care hospital at Soura which was founded by former PM and then CM, Shiekh Mohammad Abdullah was named after him as: Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS). Similarly, the GMC associated hospital at Karan Nagar has been named after Kashmir’s last dictator, Maharaja Hari Singh as: Shri Maharaj Hari Singh Hospital (SMHS).
As Rasheed stood to speak about the issue, he was continuously stopped by right wing BJP members led by Ravinder Raina. “Speaker Sir, tell me: how can both of them (SM Abdullah and Hari Singh) can be right when they fought each other?” Rasheed told Kavinder Gupta. “Government should look into the matter.”
Further, Rasheed asked government to end disparity in allotting sub-centres. “I had been promised but my area suffers most on this account,” he told the house.
Lauding role of J&K government in getting five medical colleges for state, Rasheed, however, rued the step for ignoring Kupwara district. “There was a consensus between all legislators from Kupwara but time and again, our area has been ignored despite three of us in government,” he said referring to Ab Haq Khan, Sajad Gani Lone and Bashir Ahmad Dar.
Rasheed asked government to turn the sub-district hospital into maternity hospital “which help cater the whole area”.
Lauding the role of doctors, he said, “there is huge workload on our doctors which needs to be looked into.” He added that there was “no single lady doctor” in his area.
Ridiculing government for not “releasing report on Handwara civilian Killings”, Rasheed sought special for vaccines used in dog bite cases.
Demanding Nursing College for Kupwara, he asked government “to ease the procedure of releasing funds for medical treatment under Constituency Development Fund (CDF)”.
Responding to discussion on grants to his ministry, Health Minister Bali Bhagat said that under new policy, government will be providing free medicines to patients. “The medicine which we are procuring will be packed in blue colour, liquid as well as tablets,” he told the house, “anyone, individual or chemist, found in possession of such medicine will be penalised.”
He said that the medicine will be “coming in a month or so” and “the policy is being implemented from this month only”.
Bali said that he and his team or working to “make environment favourable for patients in hospitals”. “We are banning cigarettes and other alcoholic items inside hospitals.”
On the occasion, the minister revealed that on his visit to a hospital, he found a liquor bottle in its washroom. “See the situation,” he said.
Asserting that health ministry is focusing on hygiene and sanitation of hospitals, Bali said, “we are introducing colour coding in bed sheets. The coloured beds sheets will be used on alternate days.” “At home, we take boiled water but in hospitals, we use water for drinking from washrooms,” he said, “this is the prevailing system and we will be changing it on war footing.”
Bali maintained that to improve the condition of hospitals, his ministry will be allowing photographers inside the hospitals. “It is an age of Social networking sites…minister can’t go everywhere…WtsApp me the picture if you find any problem and action will be taken,” he said.
Soon, he added, Public Addressing Systems will be installed in the hospitals. “This will help in easing the system; sometimes children get lost or some other issues crop which are of public importance,” he said.
Seeking support from lawmakers from across political divide, he said, “my ministry was restricted to transfers but we are not doing that.” “If a doctor from Gurez will not serve his/her area then where shall he go?”
“Despite the fact that we shall not bear humiliation of our officers,” Bali said, “there will be rationalized transfers but I expect that no lawmaker comes with a favour to me.”