These are s few stories of men we met and spoke to, on our visits to the Artificial Limb Centre. As you can understand, in order to mention confidentiality, we cannot give actual names. But the stories are TRUE!
THE STORY OF A BRAVE FATHER
Let us, for the sake of anonymity and safety refer to him simply as ‘Mushtaque’. There are many like him living in Poonch, Rajouri, Sopore, Anantnag, Gandherbal or the many other remote terrorist strongholds of
Kashmir. But the militants have
not been able to influence them with their rabid or radical anti-Indian
rhetoric. On the contrary, these men are brave and patriotic…and, much more
than any of us, they have proved their patriotism, often losing life and limb
in the process.
Mushtaque is one such person. He’s a simple man, an average poor man trying to make a living for his family. When his son, fired by patriotism, joined the Army, the family gave him a warm send-off. They were proud, but they made no fanfare about it, their pride burned brightly in their hearts – after all, they lived in the midst of informers and militants.
And one day, they came calling. With guns. They roughed up the father, kicked him around, hit him with their boots and rifle butts. “How dare your son join the Indian Army! Send him a message to come back, or we will teach you a lesson,” they threatened.
“I will not,” said the father. “I’m proud of what my son has done.” His face was bleeding, a few teeth had fallen off, he had bruises all over his body, but he remained defiant.
“Think about it, we’ll be back,” was their parting shot as they melted away into the dusk.
The father said nothing to his son who was training far away. A week later, the militants knocked again on the door. Fierce and ruffianish, they glowered viciously and barked, “Tell your son to leave the Army immediately, come back and join us.”
“No,” came the defiant reply.
They burnt his house down, every last bit he possessed; they set fire to his little patch of grains. But his son, far away in training, never heard any of it.
“These people will kill you. At least inform our son what’s happening. He can come back and find some work locally,” begged his wife.
“Quiet woman! What do you understand of these things? Take pride in the fact that our son has enlisted – to fight injustice, to fight bullies like these,” he said, determination writ on his face.
The father knew that the men would come back. He waited, outwardly calm. A week later, they came, hurled abuses, hit him and kicked him. “We give you one last chance. Will you tell your son?”
“No,” came the defiant reply.
They bound his hands behind his back, hung him from a culvert, and with their Kalashnikovs pumped at least 200 bullets into his legs in full view of the entire village. “Let this be a lesson to you all,” they screamed and went away.
The villagers gently took down the limp body. The legs were totally blown away, but he was still alive, barely.
They rushed him to the nearest hospital, informed his son. The brave jawan arrived with escorts, took the father to the Military hospital in
then to Jammu and Delhi,
where the military doctors gave him the best treatment possible. He survived,
but lost his legs. Fitted now with crutches, he goes around with his head held
We bow our heads in respect – to this bravest of fathers, to the most patriotic of Indians!