Necessity makes militancy victim innovator



Srinagar: A stray bullet left Arshad Ahmad Pandit crippled waist downwards, but he did not let it come in way of leading a normal life as he modified his four-wheeler to fit his special needs.

Tragedy struck Pandit in 1995 after he was hit by a stray bullet during an exchange of a gunfire between security forces and militants. The bullet in his spinal cord left this Srinagar youth, then around 20 years of age, paralysed for rest of his life.

"For the next two years I remained bed-ridden," Pandit, now a 37-year-old, said on the sidelines of Innovators' Meet at the University of Kashmir.

Deciding to further his studies, Pandit completed a Masters degree in Immunology and Molecular Medicine. "It was my elder brother who would drive me to places. I was completely dependent on him," he said.

The dependence on others and the urge for being independent led Pandit to search for a modified vehicle in which he would drive to work.

"There were no modified vehicle which I could have driven because I was having paraplegia, which means paralysis waist down, so I could use none on my legs and the modified vehicles available then required at least one functional leg," he said.

He went to a mechanic and discussed car designs and the ways to make modifications into a vehicle for himself.

"I came up with a design, it took me several months to figure it out properly," he said.

Today, Pandit, who works as a consultant at Advanced Centre for Human Genetics in the Valley's leading SKIMS hospital and has a PhD to his credit, drives the vehicle which he has modified to fit his special needs.

The Maruti Alto car, which he owns, has a modified accelerator, brake and clutch controls -- all in his right hand.

"My necessity made me an innovator," he said.

"It has given me independence. Now, I can go anywhere I want. I can see paradise with my eyes now," a proud scholar said, who is in contact with other innovators to upgrade the safety measures in the car.

PTI