Wed, 09/14/2011 By Sarita Brara
New Delhi, Sept 14, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio / PIB India) It was year 1999. A young army officer from one of the North Eastern states lay on a bed in one of the wards of the army hospital in Delhi. His leg had been amputated after he hit a land mine during the Kargil conflict. He was one of the over 1500 personnel who had been injured in the conflict.
“How are you?” I asked the young officer.
“I feel one and half Kg lighter!” he said with a smile that lit up his whole face. Brave words indeed!. How could a man in a situation like this have the courage to make light of his grievous injury? I managed to smile back but in the heart of hearts I saluted the spirit of the young man.
Twelve years later I met Lt Col Shoban Singh Danu again. This time for a story on the year of the disabled soldier. I remember that Shoban Singh Danu’s leg had to be amputated after he stepped on mine planted by the militants in the Poonch- Rajouri sector. After his artificial limb fitment he insisted on going back to the same battalion. Why? He says he wanted to boost the morale of his men as three others in the battalion had also lost their limbs in the land mine blast.
Retired Subedar LD Sharma too lost his limb in a land mine blast. Had he not been hit by a mine land blast he would have retired two ranks higher. But he has no regrets. “I did this for my country!” he says with his head held high. “I am ready to serve my country any time I am called to do so.”
These men as they defend our borders, battle against insurgents and take part in other operations, many a time suffer spinal injuries rendering them paraplegics and tetraplegics. Major Mahesh Bisht suffered spinal injury in one of the operations but today he is looking after the administration at the Kirkee (Khadki) Paraplegic Rehab Centre and is a source of inspiration for the paraplegics living there.
Rifleman Latif was on VIP protection duty in Jammu and Kashmir where after an IED blast his vehicle met with an accident and he suffered a spinal injury. He may have been depressed initially but today he is completely transformed. Last year he won three gold medals in national paralympics in Wheel Chair Race, Discuss Throw and Javelin. Latif who belongs to Anantnag in Jammu and Kashmir is now staying at the paraplegic Rehabilitation Centre at Mohali with his family.
Gunner Ajit Kumar Shukla had suffered bullet injuries. When he came to the Kirkee Paraplegic Rehab Centre he was very depressed. Today, leaving behind his pain, he too has not only won medals in the sporting events but also worked on contract basis as data operator with one of the government schools in Chandigarh.
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