Being wheelchair-bound has not dampened their spirit of patriotism. As eight former army veterans gathered in Mumbai to participate in the marathon on Sunday, their efforts showed their never-say-die spirit.
Former Subhedar Bhopal Singh, 72, who served in Indo-China War of 1962, Indo-Pak War of 1965, and the Indi-Pak Conflict over Bangladesh of 1971 is the oldest war veteran to participate in the marathon. He was paralysed waist down 22 years ago.
Another former soldier, 58-year-old Nir Bahadur Gureng, a former jawan with the Indian Army, recounted the duress that soldiers underwent after being injured in combat situations. Gureng is leading a contingent of eight army veterans who participated in 2.5-km wheelchair run for the disabled. Seventy to 80 former soldiers are undergoing treatment at Pune-based Paraplegic Rehabilitation Centre after having being paralysed waist down in war injuries. “Earlier, soldiers had no rehab facilities and would die due to lack of treatment within three to four years of sustaining injuries. The paraplegic rehab centres were started in India on lines of Australian model of rehabilitation after 1960s,” said Gureng.
“Many injured soldiers were excellent athletes. Our skills are honed at rehab centre. We are practising to participate in paralympics,” said Prem Singhale, another former war veteran.