Deepak is an enthusiastic writer who excels in several fields and loves to uncover unheard stories.
Inspirational are the journeys that take off from a point where they seem to have finished. An example of that is Javed Ahmad Tak, who could never have imagined the kind of bumpy ride life would be for him, even in his harshest of nightmares. Once a man with everyday existence, Ahmad met a gruesome militant attack in Kashmir where he suffered bullet injuries that caused irreversible damage to his already grim future. The injuries fell short of being fatal, but the wounds disabled him to stand up on his feet, thereby irreversibly putting him in a wheelchair for the rest of his life.
After the nasty blow to his aspirations and plans, Javed didn't lose hope. He instead dedicated his existence to those in need. The gritty man taught poor and underprivileged children for no cost and tried making better the lives of other specially-abled people. He opened schools for them and worked as a social activist to take the cause of such persons to the mainstream world. Recently, Ahmad was awarded the Padma Shri for his extraordinary contributions to society.
Hailing from a low-income family in Anantnag, Kashmir, Javed was the youngest and the most obedient of the lot. He lived in a community with people from the lower strata of the society, viz. labourers, small artisans, etc., and lacked quality education. Essential facilities were not less than a luxury for them. Moreover, the ever so dynamic environment of Kashmir furthered the problem of insufficient social interaction. Studies didn't interest him, and trying other fancy hobbies was out of reach, thereby aggravating the mental trouble.
Back on Track
By the time Javed reached the 10th standard, there was some respite with the improving financial condition of his family. He started taking an interest in studies for the first time when he realised that the tenth standard examination would be different from what he had appeared in earlier. The thought of emerging in a national board exam startled him, and Ahmad felt a sudden inclination towards studies. He performed well in the examinations and decided to pursue a career in law. However, his parents thought otherwise and persuaded him to become a doctor. In the end, it was Javed's benevolent character that broke the ice, and he decided to don the coat of a doctor.
A Bullet that shattered many dreams
Everything was going fine. An explorative career path was on track, and the youngest lad of the family had stirred a bunch of expectations. Till then, life seemed an easy sail. No one could predict how obnoxious was life to be. Then, one night, when Javed accompanied his aunt and cousin at their residence, a life-changing event occurred.
Militants attacked their house in a bid to knacker his cousin, who had some political links. Soon, the lively atmosphere turned into one with the sound of gunshots and cries. The indiscriminate firing didn't stop until one of the bullets zipped through the body of Javed. He fell unconscious, and so did the plans he had made for the future. A challenging phase awaited the kind man.
The Worst news of life
One bullet hit him, but it damaged multiple vital organs of his body, including the spinal cord, spleen, liver, pancreas, and kidney. It was wondrous how he managed to survive such an evil attack. The next few months included surgeries and operations of all kinds by a team of doctors to somehow try and save his organs from getting dysfunctional. Unfortunately, the mountainous efforts were not enough to repair his spinal cord due to damage beyond the scope of recovery. After spending seven months in the hospital, he witnessed the most disheartening news ever that he would not be able to stand on his feet again in his lifetime. For anyone, that would be the end of the world, and Javed was no different. He was inconsolable, disappointed and depressed, for he now had to live a dependent life full of sorrows and miseries.
With the thought of being jobless, he felt like a wasted resource that was no more than a burden on his family. Spending every day on the bed, he had no idea how to start a new life. In this one-sided battle, his only support was his family. He had to overcome the darkness he thought was his life; all it needed was a moment to trigger the comeback.
Two years had passed since the horrific incident happened, and life had become no better for Javed. He was lost in negative thoughts while not being able to put behind the past and begin afresh. Then, on a random day, he laughed. It was common but not for him since it came after a long time, thereby creating a ripple effect in his family. Seeing the rare expression, everyone around didn't think twice before joining him, creating a light environment after months of stagnation. At that point, he noticed that his happiness was not only his anymore but of his mother, father and everyone else close to him. With this thought, he started smiling a lot more and realised that it had indeed become contagious. Positive vibes made re-entry and helped reduce the hollowness.
The comeback of a warrior
There was a steady increase in sanguinity in his daily routine. While being bedridden, Javed would often hear the voices of children playing outside his house. One day, Javed asked his mother to call the children inside and knowing that education was a problem in his community, he decided to teach them for free. He realised that he can still contribute to society in some form, and teaching poor students without asking for anything in return was the best way to do it. From a handful of students, the number increased to a dozen and kept on moving northwards. It helped him come out of depression and avoid pessimism to overcome the past, which he couldn't forego earlier.
An epitome of humanity
Javed started feeling motivated by helping others and therefore decided to increase his contribution by joining two distance courses to further his studies viz., Computing and Human Rights. Soon, he set up a computer centre where youngsters would come to learn computers. His desire to help others and contribute to the lower strata of society only increased with time. The committed man soon began working towards the welfare of the disabled, physically, and mentally challenged people deprived of necessities and struck by social stigma. Later on, he pursued a master's in Social Work from Kashmir University and utilised all his knowledge to better the lives of others. His efforts went a long way in creating ameliorating the amenities for the specially-abled, like installing ramps, separate pathways, etc. It was because of his struggles that the celebration of World Disability Day happened for the first time in Kashmir in 2005. He also registered a society, Humanity Welfare Organisation, to aid the cause of humanity.
Next was the setting up of Zebunnisa Helpline School to bridge the educational gaps that people with disabilities were living with. In 2007, Javed started the Zaiba Apa Institute of Inclusive education to provide free education to persons with disabilities, where the emphasis was also given to terror victims from the state. The Government of India recognised his efforts, and he was awarded the Padma Shri in 2020.
It is tough to come out of a challenging situation with flying colours and make it a mission to help the oppressed to the best of one's ability. However, Javed Ahmad Tak is a living example of generosity, humaneness, and determination. Dealing with the trauma of facing a militant attack, he gave a new dimension to the word 'selflessness'. Be it teaching the poor, disabled, underprivileged, terror victims for free, building schools for them, setting up a dedicated organisation to further the cause of humanity, or bringing social change through legal means, all the deeds of his are admirable. A significant role in his life was played by a 'smile' which he had forgotten to wear but better late than never, he smiled, and with him, smiled hundreds whom he went on to help later.
- In 2004, Javed received the National Award for the welfare of persons with disabilities.
- Conferred with the Rotary award by the Rotary Club of India in 2005.
- Received the District Youth Award in 2006.
- In 2008, he was awarded the CNN-IBN7 citizen journalist Award.
- Received the prestigious Padma Shri award from the Government of India, in 2020.
- Javed set up an institute and a school to provide free education to the needy.
- He has filed various important Public Interest Litigations in the J&K High Court, highlighting the plight of people with disabilities.
- His efforts led to the celebration of World Disability Day for the first time in J&K in 2005.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.