'Unlike Other Muslim Societies, Burn, Suicide Cases On Rise In Kashmir'

22 May 2014
Greater Kashmir

Srinagar: While experts Thursday resolved that suicide cases have been at minimal low in Muslim societies world over, Kashmir seems to be an exception for witnessing a steep rise in such incidents. SMHS Hospital claimed to have started registering female homicidal burn cases besides witnessing an upward trend of 'violent mode of committing suicides.' Dr Shabir Iqbal, a professor of Plastic Surgery at SMHS hospital while speaking on 'Management of burns and planning for prevention' disclosed that the hospital is receiving burn and suicide cases on a daily-basis. 'In the past six months, most cases in the Burns Unit of the hospital reflected a growing new trend of homicide. These cases remain unreported with little police intervention to bring the culprits to the book,' said Dr Iqbal. He claimed Kashmir too has started witnessing 'bride-burning, wife-burning and daughter-in-law burning cases' adding that such incidents go unreported. 'Two decades ago, the Burns Unit would mainly register accidental and suicide cases. But there is phenomenal increase in burn cases, which apparently looks homicidal given the injuries,' he added. Seeking police help to coalesce data on the emerging trend, Dr Iqbal said: 'Unfortunately in the past two decades the entire focus has been on blast, bullet and pellet injuries, ignoring violence against women. Many such cases are labeled as suicide.' Noted psychiatrist Dr Arshad Hussain also pinpointed 'violent methods of suicide.' 'The hospital has never registered cases of slit throat and self-immolation in the past,' he said. Most at the conference blamed the degradation in moral and religious values for the alarming trend in suicide and other incidents. 'Society is going towards a very horrible direction. The fresh cases of burns only points out that the society is drifting away from cultural, traditional and religious values,' said Government Medical College (GMC) Principal Dr Rafiq Ahmad Pampori adding, 'There is need to introduce moral education at school level to stop the menace'. Dr Arshad Hussain advocated involvement of Masjids to counter the trend. 'Unlike the West, we may not be able to set up counselors at school, society and hospital levels. But as Masjids are traditional institutions in Kashmir, the priests can act as mass counselor on issues like suicide and female homicide,' said Dr Hussain said. Police too spoke on the occasion. 'We had only one reported bride-burning and acid-throwing cases last year. The way the police handled them served deterrent for others,' said Deputy Inspector of Police central Kashmir range Syed Ahafadul Mujtaba. 'Our department will work with the SMHS on the fresh data to understand the new trend of homicides in the valley,' he added. Passing the buck on the society, Mujtaba said: 'The society does not provide active participation for prevention of such cases.' Kashmir is grappling with phenomenal cases of suicide and domestic homicides. From .003 suicide cases per one lakh of population in 80s, the valley registered 17,000 of suicide cases, mainly women victims, in the last two decades. At present, the SMHS claims to register two to three suicide cases every day. 'Time has come for people to educate youngsters about failures too rather than pushing them into the mad race of successes. Religion has to be used as a tool to belief in the life hereafter,' said Dr Hussain. Moulana Sona Ullah a prominent priest and patron Help Poor Voluntary Trust (HPVT) stressed on parents to impart moral education to their children at the event organized by Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, GMC. The event was conceptualized and conducted by Dr S Muhammad Salim, HOD SPM who said 'This was an initiative to bring about various stakeholders together to work collectively on various social issues.' Others who spoke on the occasion included lawyer Bashir Sidiq, former bureaucrat and social activist Dr Farooq Ahmad Kaloo, journalist Pirzada Ashiq while concluding remarks were given by Dr Rauf Malik.