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Prolonged violence in Kashmir has led to ‘formidable’ health crisis: Lancet medical journal

British journal The Lancet has carried an editorial called ‘Fear and uncertainty around Kashmir’s future’, which has drawn flak from Indians on social media.

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New Delhi: Protracted exposure to violence has led to a formidable mental health crisis in Kashmir, according to The Lancet, one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious medical journals.

In its issue dated 17 August, the journal has carried an editorial commentary on India’s move to scrap Article 370, titled ‘Fear and uncertainty around Kashmir’s future’. It says: “Prime Minister Narendra Modi vows that his decision to revoke autonomy will bring prosperity to Kashmir. But first, the people of Kashmir need healing from the deep wounds of this decades-old conflict, not subjugation to further violence and alienation.”

The Lancet has used a study by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), a Geneva-headquartered international non-government medical organisation, which highlighted “that nearly half of Kashmiris rarely felt safe and of those who had lost a family member to violence, one in five had witnessed the death first-hand.” The study was conducted in two rural districts affected by conflict.

“Therefore, it is unsurprising that people in the region have increased anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder,” it says.

However, on page 542 of the same issue, an editorial has praised the health parameters of Kashmir, saying: “Despite decades of instability, developmental indicators suggest that Kashmir is doing well compared with the rest of India.

“In 2016, life expectancy was 68.3 years for men and 71.8 years for women, which are greater than the respective national averages.”

‘Controversial’ move

The Lancet has termed India’s move to revoke the autonomous status of J&K as “controversial”. “The announcement fanned tension with Pakistan, which also claims the region and has fought India over it for more than seven decades,” it said.

“At least 28,000 Indian security forces have been deployed; in the capital city Srinagar, a lockdown has been implemented that suspended communication and internet links and a strict curfew have been imposed.”

The commentary claims that the huge “militant presence raises serious concerns for the health, safety, and freedoms of the Kashmiri people”. It further says: “Since the insurgency of Kashmir in 1989, the state has experienced bloody conflict from both sides, resulting in more than 50,000 deaths.”

Using another report by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, which was published last month, the commentary said: “Gross human rights violations by state security forces and armed groups have occurred, including cross-border firings, sexual violence, enforced disappearances, and acts of terrorism.”

Also read: The constitutional questions that arise from the end of Jammu and Kashmir as a state


Social media users call report ‘biased’

The Lancet has received backlash from Indians on Twitter, who have called it “political commentary rather than medical commentary — which is its core area of expertise”.

Some users have been calling the article “biased”, while others have called for a “boycott”.

Also read: Kashmiris did hear Modi’s speech – no DTH or radio channel was shut in Jammu and Kashmir


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  1. This is about collective trauma.Same scenario also in Srilanka. Since it involves humanitarian interventions focusing in Lancet is good.

  2. Indeed the conflict has affected people of Kashmir psychologically particularly the young generation.
    The Lancet is a medical journal so it’s obvious that it’ll publish things related to health.
    As far as the article is concerned there is nothing one sided or biased as everything is true and adheres to what ground realities are.
    Apart from The Lancet there are other organizations as well who have done extensive study on mental health in Kashmir and the results are exactly the same(You have got google for that).
    So how’s writing about a health problem and it’s cause biased or political?
    People don’t want to know the truth as it’s the nature of humans to listen and remember what they like personally and which satisfies their ego.
    Due to lack of credible information from the Valley people are largely misinformed and as long as people have whatsapp university this is not going to change.

  3. I think Lancet should have thought twice before printing something on a sensitive issue like this. And the article is more of a political nature than medical. They are no ones to predict what would happen to Kashmir.

  4. The Lancet should be more worried about the Brexit and the mental issues which it causing people in UK.
    Britain is the laughing stock of Europe and with rapidly declining influence not only in the world but in their own country. Their largest industries ( Steel, cars Tea, )are owned by the Indians. The largest private sector employer are the Tatas. Even their favorite cuisine is the Great Indian Curry ( it’s ofcourse another matter that the English never had a cuisine!). The British Health Service is considered the worst in Europe, even for a simple toe nail operation, the waiting list is over 6 months. There aren’t enough hospitals, Doctors and nursing staff ( close to 40 % doctors are from India). Even on basic health parameters, the British even lag behind Poland!! Ofcourse the Lancet will not talk about this.

    What Britain is full of is a lot of gas which give them inflated egos, swelled bellies and a hell of lot of frustration which results in articles written in lancet, Guardian and other such left wing loony papers

  5. Issue dated Aug 17 means, print readiness would have been couple of days earlier. 370 abrogated on Aug6. In less than 10 days, Lancet has been able to survey many districts in Kashmir under strict curfew, no internet, no social media, no public transport and taken the pulse of the people and published this report?? Wonder if all other Lancet reports are also produced with similar rigour and truth??

  6. astonished by the comments from doctors of indian origin. I thought doctors have a human heart full of compassion and empathy, for the oppressed, irrespective of cast colour creed or religion. It is a recognised fact that the Kashmir is heavily milotrized area of the world. The people young and old, sick ailing and disabled are encaged, imprisoned and gagged. Pity on those doctors who want to ban Lancet as it raises awareness on humanitarian grounds, if i was The GMC Registrar, i will erase the names of the doctors who lack compassion and encourage human rights abuse.

  7. People need to learn to take criticisms without getting defensive. We don’t have to agree with Lancet to get something useful from their criticism. The situation in Kashmir is difficult. There is a decades long insurgency and frequent street riots, bandhs etc, in a place with long winters are all bound to have some impact on the mental health of Kashmiris. As we go forward hopefully we are able to invest in the mental health needs of kashmir especially the children. We should all strive to minimize the impact of violence as far as possible.

  8. I am a doctor. I used to browse through Lancet. 8 years ago I noticed that the editorials are very political and angry, one sided and leftist positions and sounded like we are reading The Guardian or some other leftist or communist political news paper. Rather than a medical journal. I started avoiding the Lancet.

    Now I read Lancet article it there is a good review or a specific study in which case only the paper.

    I would not be surprised if this is a deliberate propaganda piece.

  9. Unsurprising. We should also consider what this long running insurgency / conflict is doing to our psyche as a nation. Deadening us to human suffering. Vir Sanghvi has not considered recent developments in Kashmir worthy of a single tweet. Hum logon ko Rude Food khila rahe hain aur aap ko in Kashmiris ki chinta hai …

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