Pawan Kumar had been engaged for six months when he was attacked by Naxals. All of 21 and a constable with the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), he was part of the special commandos posted in Dornapal in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district.
In the attack, 10 Naxals were killed and five others captured alive. While the success of the operation earned Kumar the President’s police medal for gallantry he lost something else — the ability to run or stand for long hours, a result of four bullet injuries he sustained that day.
Now 29, Kumar now “lunges” and is unable to walk properly. “It was 2006 and we had received specific information that a Jan Adalat was scheduled in Toyapala, about 22 kilometres from our camp. We had planned to cordon off the village. While marching forward, I saw two sangham members running towards the forest and was instructed to track them. Suddenly, about 10-12 Naxals rushed out from a nearby hut and opened fire. I received one bullet in my abdomen, two in my thigh — which are still inside — and one in the lower right leg,” Kumar said.
Kumar is one of the 48 CRPF jawans who, disabled due to their injuries on duty, are now learning computers and skill development at the ‘Centre for Disability’ run jointly by the force and HCL technologies. The centre was inaugurated last week by the Director General of CRPF along with another centre for widows of CRPF martyrs. Each centre, with around 20 computers, impart training in basic Windows, internet usage and tally.
“Some soldiers have been given a job at the canteen. Others work in postal department or as office runners. The idea is to retain the self-confidence of the soldiers. We hope this training will provide them skills to lead their lives comfortably post retirement. We are also hoping that some soldiers will be placed in HCL and other IT companies,” a senior CRPF official managing the centre told Newsline.
Roop Kishore (34) would like to be posted at Amira Kadal bridge in Lal Chowk in Srinagar if he ever walks again in life. The first “fauji” in his entire family, he was posted with 67th Battalion in Kashmir when militants opened fire. While his senior was killed on the spot, he was grievously injured and rushed to Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences.
Kishore never walked again. He is wheel-chair bound and is posted in the canteen. “I heard of my friends actively taking part in the conflicts in Northeast, Kashmir and Central India. I longed to be with them, but my legs did not support me. Still, I never lost hope,” he said.