Poonch: Maimed by a landmine laid near the LoC here to check infiltration, Shabir Ahmed walked several miles on a prosthetic leg to attend the rally of Prime Minister Narendra Modi here on Friday with the hope that the visit will change the scenario of "apathy" towards people like him.
Ahmed, a resident of the bordering village of Dallan in Poonch district, stepped on an anti-personnel landmine while grazing his cattle near the Line of Control (LoC) in 2005.
Expressing dismay over the "apathy" of successive governments towards people like him who lost their limbs in similar incidents, Ahmed was hopeful that the Prime Minister would consider long-term rehabilitation plans for them.
"It was a fateful afternoon in 2005 when I was grazing my cattle near the Line of Control when suddenly something blew under my leg, after which I only remember falling unconscious. When I woke up in the hospital, I came to know that my left leg was amputated," Ahmed said at the rally's venue.
"There are thousands of residents like me in the district who lost their limbs to anti-personnel landmines near LoC but despite giving us assurances, the governments have not helped us at all. We were given a small amount of money, but after that we were left to fend for ourselves," he said.
Even though their issues did not feature in Modi's speech, Suman Khan, who too lost his limb in a landmine blast, was still hopeful that the next government will take concrete measures to ensure that they get justice.
"We are disappointed that the Prime Minister did not make any announcement for people like us. But we are hopeful that the next government will take measures for our complete rehabilitation," he said. Lal Ali, who lost his limb while cutting grass near his fields in the Karmara village situated 100 metres away from the border fence, said they have been rendered jobless and now only a rehabilitation package would provide the much-needed succour to them.
"A large number of people like me who lost their limbs are now rendered jobless as the government has done nothing for our rehabilitation," he said.
Various NGOs working for the welfare of the handicapped people in the state say that the government gives a disability pension of Rs 400 to every handicapped person in the state regardless of the cause of the disability.
In 2008, a survey by Jammu and Kashmir Handicapped Association, an NGO working for the disabled people in the state, claimed that there were 3.62 lakh handicapped persons in the state, out of which more than 50,000 were rendered limbless since the armed insurgency broke in the state.
Modi addressed a rally here as part of campaigning for BJP for the second phase of Assembly Elections in J&K.
There are 2,65,849 registered voters in Poonch including 1,40,824 male voters and 1,25,025 female voters who will decide the fate of the contesting candidates at 389 polling stations.