The Bold Voice of J&K

Border Security Force, PSF render aid to differently-abled

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BRIGADIER J.S. GREWAL, VSM (RETD)

Some remote areas of Jammu and Kashmir have often times turned disastrous due to vagaries of weather and the hostile terrain. Natural calamities, faulty electrical supply cables, landslides, unforeseen accidents, landmines and explosive devices blasts, all take their toll, leaving behind a trail of hapless victims, depriving them of their limbs and sometimes even their lives. During  such calamitous and God forsaken situations, the Pritam Spiritual Foundation (PSF) of Poonch, which is a non-political, non-religious organisation, provides artificial limbs free of cost to these victims, closer to their homes.

The Pritam Foundation has secular credentials. It renders social service to the needy, deprived sections of society, irrespective of their caste, creed or religion. This service is rendered through self generated resources. Economically deprived people suffering from physical disabilities and serious ailments are treated by organising their surgeries at Army Hospital, Rajouri and at civil hospitals at Jammu and even at Delhi. The Pritam Foundation has been dedicating its resources, energy, time and affectionate regard particularly for the                    differently-abled since its formation in the year 1990.

Free eye treatment camps organised by the foundation annually also provide lot of succour  to  people. Those suffering from eyes ailments are identified through Panchayat members, school teachers and through health workers. An eight year old girl, Seema Bee, deprived of eye sight of both eyes due to cataract since her birth, regained her vision after surgery, and saw her parents for the first time with lot of celebrations. More than 1,300 cataract surgeries have been undertaken by the Foundation since 1990.

A noteworthy feature was the provision of free artificial, prosthetic legs to two Pakistani nationals who had sought the foundation’s help in the past, while on a visit to their relatives at Poonch. One of them was Mohammed Yasin and the other was a lady, Begum Jhan. They came on different dates, and had lost their legs in different mine blasts on their side of the line of control. When they came over they could hardly walk, but when they went back, they were walking on both legs. An interesting feature was the provision of an artificial prosthetic leg to a deer. The deer was apparently famished as it was barely moving around, but after receiving the artificial leg, it could move around and graze for itself.

An Artificial Upper Limbs Fitment Camp was recently organised by the  BSF in collaboration with Pritam Spiritual Foundation as a free service venture from 2nd  to 12th February 2017, at the BSF Sector Headquarters, Rajouri, and  52 differently-abled  ladies , children and men were provided artificial arms and hands. The artificial hands were fitted with inbuilt mechanisms to move the hand to perform routine chores. The BSF had undertaken a herculean task by carrying  out a survey to identify people requiring artificial limbs, and in getting them concentrated at the BSF Sector Headquarters, Rajouri. The momentous occasion was marked with enthusiasm, gaiety and hope for the physically challenged patients who had assembled.

As an unending stream of patients deprived of their limbs flowed in at the camp from Rajouri, Reasi, Poonch, Jammu and Udhampur, the Pritam Foundation’s locally trained technicians, along with technicians  mustered from Jodhpur, Rajasthan toiled to fabricate and fit to size the artificial arms and hands. Previously worn artificial legs and feet of many patients were also repaired in situ. Emotions prevailed as some differently-abled   wept   un- consolably, while others were misty eyed on seeing their new limbs.  It  was  painful to see the parents and relatives of the disabled, displaying extreme patience, bountiful affection and love to care and attend to their wards. Two teen aged girls having lost their right arms in different electricity related accidents practiced hard enough to hold the pen with their artificial hands and wrote incessantly on pieces of paper. Those requiring crutches, wheel chairs and hearing aids, received these and got a new lease of life, as live performance by an entertainment troupe led by a blind artist, Master Kartar Chand enthralled the audience with songs and instilled dreams of a brighter future. Amidst joyous scenes, the differently-abled exclaimed of having become self dependent as they departed feeling enabled and having received a blanket and a shirt as a free gift along with their artificial limb.

The Pritam Foundation  has held innumerable such free aid camps, organised  surgeries of those in dire need, held marriages of orphaned girls and  performed many more philanthropic activities.  In the true spirit of Kashmiriat, free service or ‘Khidmat’ of those in need is the mission of the Pritam Foundation, and its missionary zeal has been acknowledged with numerous awards at the national and state levels. The President of The Pritam Foundation, Professor Jagbir Singh Sudan has been devoting his time and energy for such ventures for more than 26 years now. His undaunted, relentless endeavours have been widely acclaimed and recognised. He was earlier awarded the prestigious Real Hero’s Award by Reliance and CNN-IBN. Though it is a tedious and lonely enterprise to plan and organise such ventures, yet it is admirable that a Non Government Organisation acts as a catalyst to eradicate much pain, suffering and trauma of the disabled and their kin with its persistent and unfrustated efforts year after year. Their efforts need to be lauded.

The recent camp was true, meaningful ‘Sadbhavna’, and gained impetus with the spirited participation of the BSF under their DIG, Brigadier M.D.S Mann, SM. The smiles writ large on the faces of the differently-abled ladies, children and men, many of them living in penury and distress, said it all, and summed up the difference this camp had made to their lives.

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