New Delhi, Jul 20: The Karnataka Government is forced to cough up huge sums on spa treatment of Bangalore blast accused Abdul Nasser Madani, but the authorities are not ready to reimburse a paltry Rs 4,000 a month on Ayurvedic treatment of a NSG commando, who was paralysed in the Mumbai 26/11 operations, reports The Pioneer.
Shaurya Chakra awardee PV Manesh from Kannur was paralysed after he was hit by a grenade in his head during the terror attack on Oberoi Hotel in Mumbai. But before a grenade fell on his helmet, he shot dead a terrorist. A splinter is still lodged in his brain.
Manesh recalls that his commando team was airdropped on the roof of Hotel Oberoi in the early morning hours of November 28, 2008.
“We started from the top and raided each room. We rescued around 40 people who were trapped inside their rooms. When I reached Room No 203, I sensed the presence of terrorists. After blasting the doors when I first entered, I saw the tip of an AK47 rifle behind a curtain. In a split second, I fired and killed that terrorist. Then I saw the second man hurl grenade at me. Shooting him, I dived to catch the grenade. But it fell on my helmet,” he narrated his near-death experience.
His Shaurya Chakra citation says: “For his undaunted valour, resolute determination and dedication towards the mission beyond the call of duty, Naik PV Manesh was awarded ‘Shaurya Chakra.”
But now Manesh has been forgotten by the nation. His employers will not reimburse his treatment cost citing “blind rules” and he can't even get a confirmed train ticket. All because, like Madani, he can't hire top lawyers to argue his case for Ayurvedic treatment.
Manesh says his doctors have advised that Ayurveda was his last hope. “I have to travel by train every fortnight to a hospital 300 km away in Ottapalam in Palakkad district for treatment, which costs `2,000 every time,” he said.
“Some time I don't get train reservations. I was once even asked by the ticket collector to get off the train,” he said.
Talking to The Pioneer on phone from his home village Azheekode in Kannur, Manesh narrates his sad tale.
“The right side of my body is completely paralysed. After year-long treatment at Army hospitals in Delhi and Mumbai, I returned to my hometown. All the doctors advised me to undertake Ayurvedic treatment. Ayurveda is the last resort for me and the treatment is helping,” he said.
“But unfortunately, my treatment expenses of `2,000 per visit can't be reimbursed, simply because Army rules won't permit such reimbursement for Ayurveda. It is not an approved treatment system in the forces. What am I to do? I have tried my level best,” laments the 35-year-old former NSG commando.
Manesh is now rehabilitated in his parent force Indian Army's Madras Regiment as a Naik. The Army provides him full salary of a serving staff.
For the past one year, Manesh is undergoing treatment at Karuna Hospital in Ottapalam in Palakkad district, a well-known private Ayurveda hospital in the State. “They don't take any consultation fee from me. But I have to pay `2,000 for medicines per visit. It would be fine, if the Government and forces reimburse the cost of Ayurvedic treatment. I believe in Ayurveda. I was wheel-chair bound when I reached the hospital one year ago. Now I can walk at least 100 metres at a stretch with the help of a walking stick,” says the brave soldier.
Manesh fumes when he talks about his railway journey to the hospital. “As I am a Shaurya Chakra awardee, the Army granted me free travel rail pass along with a companion. We are entitled first class travel. But the problem is we never get confirmed reservation. Doctors insist prompt attendance. Most of the time I travel on an unreserved ticket. I can't stand for long time as my right side from head to leg is paralysed. Some people who recognise me offer their seats,” he said.
Then he went on to narrate what has left a deep wound on his psyche. “Once, I was asked to get out of the compartment, as I had no reservation. That was the day, I cursed myself. I thought for whom I have ruined my life,” says Manesh in a choking voice.
Manesh now lives at his ancestral home with his aged parents, unemployed wife Sheema, and their four-year-old son Yadukrishnan. “Now I am engaged in the construction of our new home. Recently I took a loan of Rs10 lakh from Federal Bank. I spend time with friends. It is sad to hear about the recent attack in Mumbai. It takes me to 26/11 operation days,” say Manesh.
Manesh fell down and his US made helmet was broken into three pieces. The terrorist who threw the grenade was neutralised by Manesh's colleague. Manesh was in coma for four months. He regained the capacity to speak after six months. Three shrapnel pierced his head. Two were removed and Manesh lives with one inside his head now. “Let it be there. I am used to it,” laughs the brave soldier.
“I have no regrets in life. I am proud to get Shaurya Chakra,” he said, and then added, “I have a wish. I want to go to the Oberoi Hotel with my wife and kid once in my life. One day I will.”