That he is paralysed waist-below and uses a wheelchair did not stop 32-year-old Amol Boriwale to participate in the palkhi procession. It is not the first time that Boriwale, a retired army officer, is joining the annual procession. “I have been participating since last five years. My friends and family members help me,” says Boriwale, who got paralysed waist-below in a mine blast in 2006, after which he quit armed forces.
Like Boriwale, 40-year-old Suresh Moki, resident of Navi Mumbai, has been coming for the procession since last five years. However, he rues that due to mismanagement by the authorities, he has never been able to complete the yatra. He says there are no toilets for differently-abled and nor are there other arrangements like transport or stay. “I have come till here by my own vehicle parked at a distance. After offering my prayers, I will again take my vehicle for further yatra. That is why it is very difficult for me to complete it,” he says.
At Sangamwadi Bridge, Patil Estate, a couple named Satish Anil Pawar (33) and Archana Satish Pawar (31), can be seen resting. The couple, who got married two months ago, hail from village Takri. While Archana is polio-afflicted, Satish’s hand cannot move due to an ailment. “I have been joining palkhi for last four years. It is the first time, she (Archana) is coming. We are there to help each other and are sure of completing the yatra,” said Satish.
30-year-old Navnath Ganpati Kutte from Jintur in Parbhani, is visually-challenged since birth. Yet, he has been coming for the procession since last five years with his brother and completing the yatra till Pandharpur. “Our family’s financial situation has improved in the last few years… We feel blessed. Since I am blind, my brother helps me wherever it’s needed,” he says.