Shady NGOs dupe Kashmiri pellet victims

Bilal Bhat 

Srinagar, June 12: There seems to be no end to the miseries of pellet victims of Kashmir. After suffering at the hands of the state, now shady NGOs dupe the hapless souls for “minting money in the name of social activism”.

Firdous, Danish, Saleem and Arshad, pellet victims who lost vision in both eyes, narrate a tale of tragic proportions when they were contacted by a Hyderabad-based NGO, to offer them help after participating in 45-day training at a Hyderabad institute for blind.

“I was not interested at all but they were pushing us. They promised us that we will be provided with laptops and proper training to use computers. I thought first that my life has begun to return back on track, but soon I realised it was the biggest mistake of my life,” says Firdous.

After identifying these four pellet victims through regular counselling on phone and meetings in Srinagar, the NGO motivated them to join Hyderabad training session while promising them to provide them gadgets during the training sessions.

But the NGO cracked a crude joke on these pellet victims. The journey from Srinagar to Hyderabad was a suffering for the pellet victims, they say.

“They showed us a lot of dreams. We were patients, all blind and suffering but still we were made to wait for five hours at the airport Delhi airport for connecting flight. They had booked flights a month ago to make it as cheap as possible,” says Firdous.

Hungry for almost whole day and coupled with hot weather in Delhi, the victims were in a lot of pain. However, they thought that they may get some relief after landing in Hyderabad. But that was not the case.

“The sun was soaring, there was no AC, no cooler in the room where we were made to stay. We were not able to open the doors of the hostel due to the bad smell. I felt like we were in hell,” says Firdous.

More shockingly, the victims say, they were told to spend from their own pockets and were promised that the spent amount would be reimbursed later on once they reach Kashmir.

“We were not able to eat the food which was provided to us. The food was unhygienic and substandard we all fell ill and decided to eat preparing our own. The NGO who sent us told us to pay expenses from our own pockets and they will reimburse the money which we spend on our daily needs. After completion of 45-day training, nobody contacted us. Even we had to fight for our travel return,” Firdous adds.

Like the story of Firdous, Danish, Saleem and Arshad, 26-year-old Nissar from Srinagar has been toiling hard to get himself medical treatment so that he can work properly and earn a livelihood for his family. After failing to afford medicines for himself, Nissar approached many NGOs but he received a cold response from them.

“For what purpose they are opening counters for poor and needy in hospitals? Are they only for display and show-off? I received full pellet cartridge in my legs I’m not able to walk and still they told me to approach their head office for a mere strip of medicine,” says Nissar.

Other pellet victims echo Nissar’s concerns.

“They come here for photo sessions and earn money out of that. Almost 50 NGOs visited our home since last year and promised help but nobody came forward even with a needle. My son is not working at all and is confined to the room,” laments a mother of a pellet victim in south Kashmir.

 Note: The surnames of the victims have been protected on request.

 

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