Indian Medical Association Lashes out at Medical Journal Lancet for J&K Editorial

The Lancet published an editorial saying that the military presence in the state "raises serious concerns for the health, safety, and freedoms of the Kashmiri people".

New Delhi: The Indian Medical Association (IMA) on Monday criticised British medical journal Lancet for its editorial piece on Jammu and Kashmir in a letter addressed to its editor-in-chief, Richard Horton.

On August 17, the Lancet, a weekly peer-reviewed medical journal, published an editorial titled ‘Fear and uncertainty around Kashmir’s future‘ which said that the military presence in the state “raises serious concerns for the health, safety, and freedoms of the Kashmiri people”.

The editorial cited a report published by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights last month to draw attention to the number of people who had been blinded by the use of pellet-firing shotguns between 2016 and 2018.

The editorial further underscored that “the protracted exposure to violence” had led to a “formidable mental health crisis” and had increased “anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder”.

In response to the editorial, the IMA, in its letter, alleged that the Lancet had “no locus standi on the issue of Kashmir” and had “committed breach of propriety in commenting on this political issue”.

Further condemning the “unsolicited intrusion into the affairs of the Sovereign Republic of India”, the IMA questioned “the credibility and malafide intention behind the uncalled for editorial”.

Also read: In a Ravaged Kashmir, One Woman’s Fight to Give Birth

As reported by the Quartz, the Lancet has previously published editorials expressing concern over human rights issues in connection with the 2014 crisis in Gaza, the migrant crisis in Europe and gun violence in the US.

In addition to the Lancet, the British Medical Journal also published an editorial regarding denial of access to healthcare in Jammu and Kashmir. Articulating concern over the situation in the state, the editorial pointed to pellet gun injuries, unavailability of ambulances, lack of medication supplies and high levels of mental and psychosocial stress. It also called on the Indian government to “ease restrictions on communication and travel at the earliest” and “allow patients to access health care without hindrance”.

On August 16, as many as 130 people working in public health and academia signed a letter detailing various disruptions to healthcare and medical services. The letter said, “The current situation is a blatant denial of the human rights to health and life, guarantees enshrined in the Constitution of India, including in Article 21.”

The Wire has reported instances of health care emergencies with medicals supplies running low and patients being restricted from travelling to hospitals in the state in the aftermath of the Centre’s reading down of Article 370.