‘Individuals are panicked’: Kashmir curfew takes toll on psychological well being

'People are panicked': Kashmir curfew takes toll on mental health


It had been six weeks since Syed Ruhi, 19, noticed her boyfriend, Ashfaq Ahmad, 25. They final met in his store within the bustling city market in Pulwama. The environment was tense: further troops had simply been deployed to Kashmir, and everybody suspected one thing is perhaps about to occur.
Three days later, Ruhi awoke to search out that her house, Kashmir, had modified. The Indian authorities introduced it was stripping the territory of its particular standing and dividing the state of Jammu and Kashmir in two. Hundreds of thousands of residents had been positioned below an unprecedented communications blackout. Ruhi was now not in a position to make use of her cell phone, landline or web. For some, even cable TV companies had been minimize.
As the times handed, 1000’s of individuals had been reportedly detained as a part of the clampdown, with some taken to prisons elsewhere in India. It’s not identified what number of have been launched.
Ruhi frightened consistently about whether or not Ahmad was OK. After changing into more and more distressed, she visited the district hospital’s psychiatry clinic. Inside, sufferers sitting on wood benches awaited their flip to seek the advice of the one psychiatric physician.
Abdul Hamid, a scientific psychologist, stated there had been a rise in sufferers experiencing nervousness, stress, post-traumatic stress dysfunction, and coronary heart illnesses. A number of sufferers stated they had been dwelling in concern “of military raids, tortures and arrests”.
Individuals who had beforehand discovered to handle their psychological well being situations had been now experiencing a relapse, he added.
Ruhi is certainly one of them.
After two years of remedy for her psychological sickness, Ruhi felt she had recovered and stopped taking medicine. However the uncertainty and rigidity seem to have revived the sickness. “When somebody says that the state of affairs will not be regular outdoors I really feel mentally unwell,” she stated.
The physician prescribed medicines. And by a stroke of luck, Ruhi discovered a second supply of consolation on the hospital – she noticed Ahmad there.
Daily greater than 170 sufferers go to the four-room psychiatry clinic – the one one serving the Shopian and Pulwama districts of south Kashmir. It’s probably that far better numbers want remedy, however many sufferers can not attain the hospital as a result of there isn’t a public transport.

Individuals sit within the ready room on the Pulwama psychological well being clinic. {Photograph}: Bhat Burhan/The Guardian
Sufferers from the district hospital are sometimes referred to the psychiatry clinic of the Shri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) hospital in Srinagar, the place sufferers have been attending in greater numbers in the previous few weeks.
Mustafa Ahmad, 22, is amongst these searching for remedy. It’s one yr since he final visited the clinic in Srinagar, and he had efficiently discontinued his medicine. However the clampdown sparked a relapse of his insomnia and nervousness.
Ahmad would usually wake at 7am and go to the fitness center earlier than working from 10am until 6pm. “Now, I can’t sleep till 2am,” he stated. “I sleep throughout daytime as a result of there’s nothing to do. [The] fitness center can also be shut.”
He has been taking sleeping drugs for the final seven weeks and is having nightmares. “I concern getting arrested, then what is going to occur to my household? Or if I’m hit by bullets or a teargas shell. I didn’t count on [the clampdown] to be so lengthy and unsure.”
In response to a 2015 survey by Médecins Sans Frontières, almost 1.eight million adults in Kashmir – 45% of the inhabitants – have proven signs of psychological misery. Greater than 41% of the inhabitants confirmed indicators of despair, 26% indicators of tension and 19% confirmed possible signs of post-traumatic stress dysfunction.
Pulwama location – map
Dr Aijaz Ahmad Khan, a scientific psychologist on the SMHS psychological clinic, believes the state of affairs is getting worse. “Per week after August 5, we noticed a change within the sufferers. We began having sufferers who had psychological disturbances. It’s growing since then,” he stated. “There may be emotional numbness and it’s growing.”
He stated at the very least 10% of sufferers have complaints immediately associated to the clampdown. A yr in the past, about 70 to 80 sufferers visited the Srinagar clinic, however Khan stated it was now seeing 130 to 150 a day.
The delicate state of affairs in Kashmir has severely affected girls, who’ve fewer alternatives to enterprise outdoors. Romana, 22, from Pulwama, stated she was struggling paranoia.
“I used to be feeling sick whereas at house,” stated Romana, a pc research pupil. “If an individual desires to go someplace, you may’t. Individuals are panicked, so am I … I really feel scared.”

Romana’s prescription says her state of affairs has escalated “as a result of curfew”.
Zoya Mir, a scientific psychology pupil on the Institute of Psychological Well being and Neurosciences in Srinagar, is frightened in regards to the future.
“We have now develop into resilient to ache, emotions, and feelings,” stated Mir, who has skilled panic assaults. “There will probably be some extent the place it is going to be past restore.”
Individuals don’t talk with their households or one another as a result of there’s nothing constructive to say, added Mir. Even when there was, cell and web companies stay suspended for hundreds of thousands. Landlines, although apparently restored, are unreliable.
Because the shadows within the hospital grew longer, Ruhi and Ahmad determined to drive again house collectively. “Within the automotive, we are going to resolve our subsequent assembly,” stated Ruhi. “We’ll meet once more now, quickly.”
Some names have been modified


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