by Raashid Andrabi
SRINAGAR: On January 4 midnight, a family from north Kashmir alleged that they lost their newborn baby when two security guards at Kashmir’s premier maternity hospital, Lal Ded refused to let them take the newborn to the Intensive care unit (ICU) without a tip. They actually had paid but the guards sought more.
According to family members, Shafiqa, 22, wife of Mohammad Amin, a resident of remote Kupwara, was rushed to Lal Ded when she went into labour. They reached in time and the baby was delivered.
Amin, her husband said that the doctors attending his wife asked him to transfer the infant to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) after the birth. However, security guards posted at the end of the labour room refused to let him through for want of a tip, he alleged.
“The doctor directed me to transfer the infant to the ICU as soon as possible, but the guards on duty stopped me from doing so,” Amin said. “As I approached the labour room, the security guards refused to let me go and demanded money.”
Amin alleged the child died as he walked out of the room with a noticeable lump in his throat.
Amin said, although he offered them money, the guards, however, refused to accept it, wanting more. He said he was not allowed to proceed and was held there for around 10 minutes.
“After reaching the ICU, doctors in the room tried their best but couldn’t save the baby. This is not a mistake but a murder,” the distraught father said.
“My wife is asking for her child. What should I say to her,” he asked. The family then staged a strong protest at the hospital premises and demanded harsh punishment to the erring guards.
Medical Superintendent of the Lal Ded Hospital, Dr Syed Muzaffar, told Kashmir Life that the patient was hospitalized on January 2 and gave birth at 12:30 am. “The baby wasn’t well and was in need of being transferred to the intensive care unit. Doctors instructed the father to transfer the infant to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for additional treatment, and while doing so he was stopped by two female security guards who asked for a tip,” Dr Muzaffar conceded.
He said that the father had offered them Rs 800 as a tip but they demanded more during which valuable time was lost leading to the infant’s death. The guards posted at the hospital were provided by a Srinagar based private security company, Valley Service Security Agency.
Dr Muzaffar admitted that the attitude of the guards on duty was unprofessional as well as unethical. He said that a committee had been formed upon the father’s complaint following which the services of the guards were terminated and the guards blacklisted by the hospital administration.
“I sacked both female security guards, and we will ensure that such incidents do not occur again,” he said.
It was not immediately known if the police have taken cognisance of the incident. Seeking tips at the gates of the labour room has remained a normal practice for a long time. Security guards seeking tips is apparently just a new entry into the circuit.