Wake up SKIMS authorities

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Kashmir has a long history of man-animal conflict and as per official data as many as 118 people were killed and 1877 wounded in attacks by wild animals in the Valley during the past 10 years (from 2011). In the year 2020 alone, as many as 10 deaths and 141 injuries by the wild animals were reported in Kashmir. The human-animal conflict, wherein either the victims die or are injured critically are frequently reported in the local media. The humans too have killed several leopards and black bears that were found roaming in different human habitats. The conflict is a serious cause of worry for all as people, particularly those living near forest areas are under constant threat of falling prey to wild animals. Of late the incidence of such conflicts has increased with more and more people falling victims to the attacks by the wild animals — usually the bears and leopards. Even as the incidents of human-animal conflict regularly make it to the news space, not much is said, written or heard about the plight of the victims after their initial emergency treatment at the hospitals. And the unfortunate reality is that most of these victims, who require a specialized treatment, including reconstructive plastic surgeries, have to run from pillar to post at Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) for their treatment, which is funded by the Wildlife Protection Department of J&K. In first week of September, 2021, this newspaper published a detailed report about how the victims are denied the requisite treatment at SKIMS. However, nothing has changed and the victims continue to suffer.

As a compensation policy, the Wild Life Department has already deposited funds for the specialized treatment of the victims at SKIMS, the leading tertiary-care hospital. But fact of the matter is that despite the money being available, the victims are not getting the needed treatment. Most of the victims being from poor families and from far-off localities, are forced to live with the disabilities in absence of proper treatment. Though the Wild Life Department has been in communication with SKIMS for granting of funds for the treatment of the victims, there are several cases wherein the victims are not getting the desired treatment.

As per official records, Department of Wildlife has already deposited an amount of Rs 154 lakh into the official account of the SKIMS “for reconstruction surgeries of victims of human-wildlife conflicts” on November 12, 2020. However, despite the availability of money, the victims are not getting desired treatment. There is something wrong within the SKIMS that results into the suffering of the victims of the human-animal conflict are suffering badly. Question arises that if the Wild Life Department has already deposited the money, why the victims are not being done with the desired surgeries. Whether the mechanism is flawed or the inner politics of SKIMS is responsible for this negligence, fact of the matter is that the victims are on the receiving end. It is high time that those who are heading the SKIMS wake up and resolve the issue. SKIMS authorities should come clear and issue a public statement regarding the delay in the treatment of such victims. Lieutenant Governor should look into the matter personally and find out where lies the fault. Those responsible for unnecessary in the surgeries should be identified and brought to the book as they are responsible for the agony of the victims and unending trauma of their families.

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