The Indian Medical Association on Monday wrote to British medical journal The Lancet criticising its editorial piece on the Indian government’s recent decisions on Jammu and Kashmir. The association said it was unfortunate that the journal had “committed breach of propriety by commenting on a political issue”.
“It is amounting to interference into an internal matter of Union of India,” the statement read. “The Lancet has no locus standi on the issue of Kashmir. The Lancet has reacted to an internal administrative decision of Government of India under the garb of concern for the health of Kashmiris.”
The medical association questioned the “credibility and malafide intention” behind the article and said it was withdrawing “the esteem we had” to the journal, on behalf of the medical fraternity. It condemned the “unsolicited intrusion into the affairs” of India, and said “generations of Indians, especially the doctors and medical students will carry the unpleasant memory of this act of commission by The Lancet”.
On Saturday, the medical journal, in an article titled, “Fear and uncertainty around Kashmir’s future”, described the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status as a “controversial move”. “The militant presence raises serious concerns for the health, safety, and freedoms of the Kashmiri people,” the article read.
The prolonged exposure to violence in the region has resulted in a “formidable mental health crisis”, the article said. It also cited a Médecins Sans Frontières study in two rural districts of Jammu and Kashmir and found that almost half of Kashmiris rarely felt safe and one in five out of those who had lost a family member due to some form of violence, had witnessed the death firsthand.
The journal further added that even though Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised that the decision would bring prosperity to the region, the people “need healing from the deep wounds of this decades-old conflict, not subjugation to further violence and alienation”.
The journal stated that the state had experienced conflicts with over 50,000 deaths, adding that a report by the United Nations High Commissioner had found “gross human rights violations by state security forces and armed groups”.
“Despite decades of instability, developmental indicators suggest that Kashmir is doing well compared with the rest of India,” the journal said. “In 2016, life expectancy was 68.3 years for men and 71.8 years for women, which are greater than the respective national averages.”