The preliminary investigation into the recovery of a newborn baby's body outside Jammu and Kashmir's largest maternity hospital, Lal Ded Hospital, has held the doctor-in-charge responsible for not admitting a pregnant woman late on January 17.
There have been protests across the state over the death. It is alleged that the doctor refused to admit the woman and also passed a racist remark by calling her 'Gujjar' (the nomad and cattle rearing section of society).
The woman has been identified as Suraya. Her husband Wazir Ahmad told Outlook that the doctor abused them and asked them to leave with medicines.
The preliminary inquiry by the management of LD Hospital stated that although Suraya did not show any signs of labour pain and she was into the 34th week of pregnancy, there were no indications of premature delivery.
It further said that after a physical examination, Suraya was sent for an ultrasound test and the doctor-in-charge did not anticipate a subsequent delivery. However, since Suraya was a referral (referred by a remote healthcare facility), she should not have been discharged.
"Hence the doctor-in-charge has not followed the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP)," the enquiry added.
The incident has sparked widespread condemnation from every nook and corner of the valley with former chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti seeking Governor Satya Pal Malik's intervention in the case.
"Heart-wrenching that a pregnant woman was turned away from a hospital which ironically is named after the great Kashmiri mystic saint Lal Ded. She later gave birth to a still born in frigid temperatures. Can't even begin to fathom the pain and trauma the parents must feel," Mehbooba Mufti said.
Former IAS officer-turned-politician Shah Faesal blamed the ailing healthcare system in rural areas of the state while tweeting about the case. Faesal, who is also a doctor, said that patients will not have to suffer if the focus is laid on the maternity and child healthcare services in the state.
Suraya had travelled nearly 100 kilometres from her Moori village in Kupwara district when the area was still under three feet of snow. She was referred to Srinagar from the sub-district hospital in Kupwara.
The case has also created a rift among the doctors' community in J&K with the juinior doctors blaming the seniors for negligence and making the PG and resident doctors a scapegoat.