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Strife in Kashmir Drives Thousands to Psychiatric Wards

ing. They were treating me as if I was pretending an illness, Shaheena says.

Most of the patients at the hospital refuse to talk about their problem. The hospital authorities have erected signboards prohibiting journalists from entering the hospital without permission.

The daily humiliation of Kashmiris at the hands of the armed forces contributes significantly to the feeling of depression.

Whenever I come close to the men in uniform I get nervous and try to avoid them. My heart begins to palpitate fast and I become restless. I feel humiliated whenever they stop me for frisking at checkpoints, said Farooq Ahmad, a government employee posted in Srinagar.

Farooq hails from Anantnag town and has to travel daily to Srinagar to attend office. Though frisking for him is now routine, he has been taking medicines for anxiety for the past 10 years.

Psychiatrists in Kashmir have long been asking for better medical facilities to treat mental illnesses. Apart from the OPD facility at the Psychiatric Hospital, the OPD facility kept available at smhs hospital, Srinagar, receives more than 150 patients per day. The centre was set up on the persistence of doctors.

Doctors say that most of the people living in Kashmir have fallen prey to mental disorders like depression or anxiety. They feel the root cause is the high threat to life and the constant sense of insecurity among the people.

People continue to be under tremendous pressure. They have been witnessing encounter killings, torture, rape, death and destruction due to bomb blasts. Then there are all these disappearances. This is quite enough for a person to suffer a psychiatric disorder, says S. Khurshid-ul-Islam, a sociologist.


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