Army's Chance Help Comes To Militancy-hit Child After Two Years
3 October 2005
The Indian Express
Jammu: Militancy during the past decade has wrought havoc in the lives of J- K people. The worst affected have been children who, in a blaze of gunshots, have been deprived of their innocence forever.The three- year-old Shamim Akhtar is not as fortunate as other little girls have been. Two years ago, during a militant raid in her village, she was left lying alone in her house even as her parents had fled to hide from the firing. On their return, they were horrified to see their dhok ablaze. By the time her father could rescue her, she had suffered extensive burns in her head and neck. Her burns had advanced to the stage where the child was unable to even close her eyes to have even proper nap. Her poor father Mohd Iqbal had been moving from door to door seeking aid for his child's treatment. Tragedy struck again when his nephew Jameel Ahmed, an SPO who had borne the cost of the child's treatment, was gunned down by militants. Drowned in debt to the tune of Rs 2 lakh, the future for Mohd Iqbal was bleak. However, the fate had other ways to take turns. About a month back, during a chance encounter, troops of a Rashtriya Rifles happened to meet Shamim by chance. They were moved by the child's plight and brought her to their Regimental Medical Officer, who in turn brought the case to the notice of superior authorities. Shamim Akhtar underwent the first phase of reconstructive surgery at Northern Command Hospital, Udhampur. In two separate operations, each spanning over four hours. Extensive skin grafting and reconstruction of facial architecture was done. Both surgeries were unmitigated successes. As the photographs taken before and after the surgery depicted. A large ulcer on the child's head has healed completely. Both eyelids have been reconstructed, thereby removing the risk of blindness due to constant exposure to sunlight. The patient's nose has been reconstructed. Post-operation recovery has been uneventful. Shamim is due to return to the hospital in November for review and the second phase of reconstructive surgery.