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Kashmiri man starts school for differently abled after being paralysed in terror attack

Last Updated on March 29, 2021 at 9:43 pm

It is impossible for Javed Ahmad Tak to forget that unfortunate event in 1997 when he was hit by a bullet during a terrorist attack. As a result, he couldn’t get off his bed for many years and later on was confined to a wheelchair. Rather than losing hope, Javed chose to fight and became a role model for many differently-abled people.

He was injured by firing when he was at his uncle’s home in Anantnag on night of March 21-22, 1997. Terrorists wanted to attack his cousin who was block president of the National Conference. He tried to save his life and a bullet injured him. His spinal cord, kidney, pancreas and intestines were seriously damaged by this injury.

He was admitted in hospital for about a year and had to be bedridden for the next three years. In June 2000, he decided that he will not waste his time and will teach young boys for free. He taught 80-90 boys in the next four years. To further support poor students, he also started a book bank, uniform bank and bag bank at his home. He formally started the Zeba Apa Institute for Specially-abled children in 2006.

He completed his Masters in Social Work from the University of Kashmir in 2007. The government granted him Rs 75,000 ex-gratia in 1999 for his treatment. This money helped him to start school in rented accommodation. He also employed a few trained teachers to teach disabled children. Initially, he set up this school for primary students but started teaching students up to 8th standard. His school provides education to around 120 differently-abled students. It also employs 25 staff members, including 10 trained teachers.

He says that he doesn’t charge a fixed fee and parents have to decide how much they can pay. Some parents pay normal charges, some very small amount and others don’t pay at all. He also receives financial support from the public, NGOs and civil society groups.

Many students who have studied in this school have performed excellently in their career. One of the visually impaired girl students, Zakiya Manzoor is pursuing her BA from Delhi University. Another visually impaired girl named Saima Hussain works as a junior artist at J&K Cultural Academy. Some students have even participated in national-level sports competitions and secured medals.

He plans to extend classes to higher secondary level and establish a hostel so that students don’t have to travel on a regular basis.