26/11 hero still fighting the enemy within!
"The Pioneer - November 26, 2013 | J Gopikrishnan | New Delhi
Even as the nation observes the fifth anniversary of the 26/11 terror attack on Tuesday, a paralysed NSG Commando is fighting a legal battle against the Indian Army for justice. Havildar PV Manesh who got the Shaurya Chakra has been transferred from his hometown in Kerala to New Delhi and his helper has been taken away.
Mercifully, the Delhi High Court has stayed the transfer, and asked the Army and Government of India to file a reply by January 24, 2014. The Army may come out with its own justification, but the fact remains that the commando needs round-the-clock care and attendance.
However, the High Court’s order may not be the end of Manesh’s ordeal. He has been constantly abused and harassed by Army officials and even a plea to Defence Minister AK Antony, by his wife has not helped matters.
Manesh went into a coma for four months after being hit by a grenade thrown by terrorists. The right side of his body is paralysed and a splinter is still lodged in his head. During the NSG operation in Hotel Oberoi, Manesh saved 40 people and eliminated two terrorists before being hit.
After a wheelchair-bound Manesh was discharged from hospital, the Army posted him to the Territorial Army Unit in his hometown Kannur. He was also allotted a bystander to help him. Manesh belonged to the 27 Madras Unit of the Madras Regiment and was in NSG on deputation.
Manesh’s troubles began when he went in for Ayurvedic treatment, which helped him to the extent that he started walking small distances with the help of a cane by the end of 2009.
However, the Army refused to meet his medical expenses claiming that Ayurveda was not approved for reimbursement. After the Delhi High Court’s intervention, the Army was forced to pay the bills as a special case.
On September 17, the Army issued Movement Orders to Manesh asking him to join the Unit in Delhi . Manesh’s pleas urging the Army to let him remain in his hometown Kannur, where he was accommodated on compassionate grounds, were not entertained by the authorities of his Unit.
Shockingly, the Army authorities took the decision to move Manesh a week after his wife Sheema appealed to Defence Minister AK Antony urging him to retain her husband in the hometown station of the Territorial Army, given his physical condition.
According to officials in the Defence Ministry, on getting her petition, Antony instructed the “authorities concerned” to retain Manesh permanently in his hometown unit of the Territorial Army as a special case. Despite this, the Army Unit ordered Manesh to join Delhi by October 30. Meanwhile, the authorities also called back the helper who had been assisting Manesh to move around for the past five years.
After all doors were shut on him, Manesh approached the Delhi High Court. The bench, headed by Justice Gita Mittal and Justice VP Vaish stayed the transfer order on October 22. The next hearing of the case is posted on January 24.
Apart from citing his physical inabilities, Manesh said in the Writ Petition that he was abused and threatened by the Commanding Officer of 27 Madras Unit. His wife’s petition to Antony clearly talked about constant harassment and threats by the authorities of the Regiment. “Due to the harassment by the authorities, he suffered illness, fits and headaches,” said Sheema’s letter to Antony .
Manesh, Sheema and their five-year-old son live with aged parents in Kannur. He is currently undergoing Ayurvedic treatment twice a month at a hospital 200 kilometres away from home.
[This report was published in "The Pioneer" on Nov 26, 2013]
Note : One good thing happened - I got call from Defence Minister AK Antony around 10 am, promising immediate action to ensure justice to PV Manesh. By first week of March 2014, orders were issued to retain Manesh in his home town Territorial Army Unit in Kannur District, Kerala. Feel so happy as journalist to bring justice to a wounded soldier of 26/11 terror attack.