Srinagar    -   A Kashmiri doctor who warned the three-week curfew and communications blackout slapped by the BJP-led Indian government in the held valley would lead to critical medication shortages and deaths has been arrested.

Dr Omar Salim was arrested by Indian police officials on Tuesday after he informed media about the terrible health crisis because of continuing clampdown by India in the territory.

Dr Omar Salim, who is a urologist at the Government Medical College, Srinagar, had appeared at Press Enclave in Srinagar to speak to the media, wearing a doctor’s apron. He also held a placard that stated he was making a “request and not a protest”.

Salim had only spoken for 10 minutes when police personnel whisked him away to some unknown location. Attempts to locate whereabouts of Salim were thwarted by the information blockade. Spokesperson for the occupation authorities, Rohit Kansal, the only official interface between the authorities and journalists, skipped the media briefing. Omar stated theinformation blockade and travel restrictions were endangering the lives of patients, particularly those who are in need of dialysis or chemotherapy. Omar said life-saving medicines were running out and new orders could not be placed.

“I have a patient who required chemotherapy on August 6, he came to us on August 24 but could not obtain the chemotherapy medicine,” Dr Omar said. “Another patient whose chemotherapy drug has to be obtained from Delhi was unable to place an order for the drug. His chemotherapy has been postponed indefinitely.” The doctor also also warned kidney dialysis patients could only receive treatment once a week and Kashmiris could not purchase medicines because ATMs had run out of money.

“If patients don’t receive dialysis, they will die. If cancer patients don’t receive chemotherapy, they will die. Those patients who can’t be operated on can die,” he said.

The Jammu and Kashmir Department of Information and Public Relations dismissed reports of medicine shortages claiming all government approved drugs are still available in both state-owned shops and private retailers.

This was contradicted by two groups of Kashmiri medical professionals who separately published open letters last week warning the curfew was preventing patients from accessing emergency medical care and that supplies were running out.

The Indian authorities claim there have been no civilian deaths since it removed the state’s autonomous status. Local media reports say there have been at least three deaths from tear gas and shotgun pellets and that doctors have “received clear verbal instructions” from the authorities to record alternate causes of death.