Modi Praises Valley's Crusader Javed In 'Mann Ki Baat' Show

29 November 2015
The Hindustan Times
Toufiq Rashid

Srinagar: For the entire day on Sunday, neighbours and friends made a beeline to Javed Ahmad Tak's house in Anantnag district to congratulate him after Prime Minister Narendra Modi reiterated him on in his radio show 'Mann Ki Baat'. The Prime Minister mentioned him as an example of courage, in spite of being disabled. Javed, 42, who was paralysed after a militant attack in 1997, has been transforming lives of hundreds of differently abled children. For him, being mentioned by the PM is a 'step towards realisation of his dream'. 'It is my dream that a disable person should be known for their strengths. If this thought had touched PM's heart, it means I am a step closer towards that goal,' Javed told Hindustan Times. 'Militant Attack changed life' Attacked by militants at an age of 21, Javed has been fighting a long battle for dignity and rights of differently abled people. From a law suit demanding 3% reservations in government jobs to running a school for differently abled children, Javed's says his struggle has not been only to get funds, but rights for disabled people. 'On March 21 1997, I woke up to the sound of strangers breaking into my aunt's house in an attempt to kidnap my cousin, who was affiliated to the then ruling party. In the ensuing melee and indiscriminate firing, I was shot at from close range. The bullet hit my spine, resulting in an injury that left me wheelchair-bound,' recalls Javed. His right kidney, spleen, a part of liver and intestine were removed to save him. 'My life changed and so did the life of my family. I did not want them to be unhappy, so I asked my mother to find me unprivileged children whom I can teach,' added Javed. 'School for disabled' Javed started giving free tuitions to underprivileged children and that was his turning point. Javed did his post-graduation in social work, BEd in special education and certificate courses in computing and human rights. However, after a while, Javed felt the need to help specially-abled children. 'My students helped me to do a census in nearby villages and found few differently abled children. With the help of my family and friends and '75,000 compensation from the government, I started a school,' he said. 'This compensation is given to militancy victims who are found to have no links with militants. I refused it for six years but accepted it to open Zaiba Aapa School in 2007,' he added. 'Initially, my family and friends contributed and as students continued to do well, donations started pouring in,' said Javed. A five-year funding by an NGO gave the required push. Today the school has 75 students. The first batch has passed Class 8 and a few students have been sent to Delhi for further studies. After the Prime Ministers support, Javed says he doesn't need any funds. 'After being on bed for a year, my perceptions towards the society changed. I was troubled by constant social stigma and obstacles faced in terms of right to employment, health care and education,' said Javed. 'Government's assistance, to which we are entitled, is not provided on time. At times, peons in government offices treat us like beggars. We have to go through several bureaucratic procedures to get relevant certificates, in order to be eligible for government's victim assistance programmes,' added Javed. 'I just want the government to give us our rights, a right to have a ramp, a right to use public transport, the right to get education, the right to healthcare and a right to lead a dignified life,' he added.