“ There is nothing new in world except the history you do not know.” – Harry Truman

Musavir has an on-the-spot report from a place that the society would rather not talk about

(Mr. Musavirr Wani, 28, was born in Srinagar and attened the Burn Hall School. He graduated from the Meerut University and joined the Kashmir Times as a reporter. Loves driving his car and surfing internet to seek out workshops and fellowships so that he can travel and present the true picture of Kashmir.)

‘We are normal, not insane’

Srinagar: Quite contrary to general perception, inmates at valley’s lone psychiatric diseases hospital consider themselves “normal”.

“What are you looking for? I am not a patient. They are there,” says a female inmate while pointing towards others in one of the wards of Valley’s lone psychiatric diseases hospital in Srinagar.

As this correspondent was jotting down details, Shazia Akhter (name changed), yet another inmate, came rushing down and said, “I too can write” while entering her name on writing pad.

There are 21 female inmates in hospital from different districts including Srinagar, Baramulla, Pulwama and Budgam. Zoona (name changed), another inmate, just roams around. She has been here for last two decades.

“They fight over trivial issues. At times they turn violent and injections are used to pacify them. Whenever they see their dear one or any other relative they lose their temper,” said Khateeja, a maid in hospital.

She admits that families of inmates show a “cold-shoulder response” and do not visit them frequently. “There are 5-6 cases who can be send back, but their families are not willing to accept them,” said Khateeja adding “they consider them a burden.”

Shafeeqa from Qamarwari is orphan. Being well-aware of the fact, she said, “I have no one at home”.

Situation in male wards is no different. Hilal Ahmad (name changed), an inmate while introducing himself said, “I have studied in Hanfia College, no in women’s college, no in University. My identity card is with them (pointing towards hospital management).”

When asked how he landed in the psychiatric hospital Hilal averred, “I am here because I was a drug-addict. Now I have given-up and I take medicines regularly.”

As he was speaking, Asif (name changed), another inmate came inside, “There is alcodine and nicotine in drugs and Kashmiri chai (tea). This is very harmful for health.”

“Kal main azad hojaunga” (tomorrow I will be a free bird)” Asif said, “My parents brought me here.”

Asked why, he replied, “Kya pata (I do not know) adding “I do what my parents ask me to do and would go home tomorrow and continue my studies. I miss my parents and friends”.

Next to Asif stands another inmate who cried, “They do not allow me home, I want to go. My younger brother brought me here.”

Ninety male inmates from various districts of valley are in four wards of hospital.

“Serious patients are put in separate ward and when they turn furious they are kept in different cells. More inmates are from rural areas,” said an official of hospital adding, “They mostly fight over cigarettes. Sometimes patients turn out of control and injections are used to bring them relief.”

Citing an example, he added “Few days back, we took a patient home (in hospital vehicle), next day, family brought him back” adding “basically, their families fail to provide them medicines (at home) that are given them free of cost, here.”