For LD hospital staffers, every new born brings windfall

Poor Families ‘Forced’ To Pay ‘Grand Tip’ For Deliveries

IMRAN MUZAFFAR

Srinagar, Apr 30: Sensationally, the maid announced birth of a baby boy. She congratulated the father, hugged a lady in Burqa (veil) and kissed the infant on forehead.
 “A baby boy! Sadh, Sadh Mubarak (Many, many congratulations) to all of you,” she said. “But it does not go like this, you know. It demands a grand tip,” the maid finally asked them, in a serious voice.
 For a baby to be handed instantly, the family paid Rs 1000 at Kashmir’s lone maternity hospital; Not by choice but by ‘force’. This is what happens day in and day out at LD Hospital, with maids and theatre officials ‘fleecing’ poor families.
 But when a poor family from a south Kashmir village was asked to pay the “tip,” Gulzar, the father, found himself in a tight-spot. He went outside the hospital and started calling his acquaintances. “I don’t have enough money. And if I pay Rs 1000, how can I manage everything here,” he told Greater Kashmir. “Some families here give them (maids and theatre assistants) much money, but I can’t afford.”
 However, Gulzar had to manage exactly Rs 1000. Else, the maid had told them (with a smile), ‘Then the baby rests with us.”
 When asked why he paid the amount, Gulzar said he had no choice. “What else could I do?” he asks. “You know they could have taken away my son and never returned.”
 The fear of ‘dishonest behavior’ of maids and theatre assistants among families seems intense here in this hospital. “Where do you expect us to go when they tell us to pay the tip,” asked a 35-year-old man, Manzoor Ahmad, who had just become father. “We don’t want to take a risk. In this hospital, people could be disappeared in a moment.”
 Greater Kashmir talked to over a dozen families on the issue at the hospital. Barring a couple them, all families said, “The hospital we pin our hopes on forces us to pay bribes.”
 “It is their job to render services to us. But they ask everybody here to pay something – that too hefty. Rs 1000 matters a lot at this time,” said a just-become father from Bandipora. “In the garb of Chai (tea), they are fleecing poor people here. If a family can afford it, what about a poor one that doesn’t have the money to travel back home,” he said.
 Insiders told Greater Kashmir that the nexus was much ‘bigger’ and ‘complex’ while the higher ups were silent. “Theatre assistants and maids are in nexus with each other. After every birth, they compel families to pay almost Rs 1000,” an official said. “This is a genuine problem here. People don’t lie.”
 Medical Superintendent Lal Ded Hospital Dr Mushtaq Ahmad said the authorities suspended some employees two months back in such cases. “Lately we have installed CCTV cameras to check such practices in the hospital,” he said. “I have also directed deputy superintendent and other officials to keep a check on it.”

Lastupdate on : Tue, 30 Apr 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 30 Apr 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 1 May 2013 00:00:00 IST




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