Srinagar, July 26: From being a worthless drug addict to a man whose services and expertise are now used to deter abusers from the path of addiction, Manzoor Ahmad has become a beacon of hope for many.
Considering that only years ago he was in treatment for his own drug addiction, his journey has been nothing short of miraculous and inspiration for many.
Manzoor, 55, a stick thin man from Dalgate area of district Srinagar, with high cheek bones peeping out from a gaunt face, narrates his long-drawn battle with drugs.
“I went to Goa in my teen years. There, I roamed around with foreigners who lured me into drugs,” he said.
The addiction struck with him for the next ten years. During the period, he not only lost his health, but also his hard-earned money and many friends.
His frequent escapes from his home were taking a toll on his family. Besides, they had to bear the brunt of his rage, if he did not get his daily dose of drugs.
“If I didn’t get my daily dose of drugs, I turned aggressive and my family members bore the brunt of my rage,” recalls remorseful Manzoor.
Drugs also deprived Manzoor from his passion for sports.
“I was very athletic as a teenager. I actively participated in sports like cricket and football but drugs took away everything including my stamina,” he said with a sigh.
The former drug-addict had a large circle of friends who were all into drugs and most of them were from elite circles of the society.
“We used to gather in small groups and do the drugs in abandoned buildings or parks at night time.”
“After taking drugs, I slept till midday and woke up with writhing pain. Sometimes pain overwhelmed me to such an extent that I had to tie ropes to my arms. It would continue till I got my next dose of drugs,” narrates Manzoor.
Such was his situation that his father thought he could not be rehabilitated.
“I remember one day my father gave me money for drugs and said if they can earn me good health then I should continue with it. Soon after he expired,” remembers Manzoor with a heavy emotional voice.
In 2008, Manzoor accidently met a guy from Family Planning Association India (FPAI) who pretended to be a drug addict. The brief encounter gave him a shot at getting his life back.
“I met this person on the roadside. Without revealing his identity, he told me that he will provide me a substance that gives the same feeling as drugs and that too free of cost. Since, I was running short of money so I agreed to accompany him.”
Without realizing, Manzoor entered the treatment program which extended for months together. This included undergoing various tests, medication, and intense counselling sessions.
“Slowly and steadily, I realized drugs would bring me nothing, but misery. My hatred for drugs grew to such an extent that mere cigarette smoke around me was irritating me,” he said.
After the completion of the treatment, Manzoor brought a three-wheeler and made living out of it.
In the meantime, he also got an opportunity to give back and share the message of hope and recovery to other individuals and families affected by addiction.
“Seeing my will power, the organization approached me to work as a staffer and help them in rehabilitating other addicts. As I have seen the worst, I readily accepted this offer,” he said.
His job is a challenging one which includes identifying the drug addicts, persuading them for treatment, and later on help them with counselling. Besides this, he offers free lifts to the patients throughout their treatment.
“Dealing with drug addicts demands lot of patience. On my first meeting, I take them out and offer them something to eat. After few days, I meet them again and slowly I bring up the topic of drugs and remind them of its dangerous consequences,” said Manzoor, who is now the grandfather, and father to three children.
He added, “It is a gradual process. Nobody agrees at the very first instance. But if you show them love and affection, sooner or later they come around.”
His colleagues are all praises for him. One of the staffers at Family and Planning Association of India said, “No one knows his name in this locality. He might appear to you like a commoner whom you can easily take for granted, but he does the phenomenal work. He has saved many lives and without his support, our endeavor to help such people was impossible.”
The FPA is funded by J&K SACS of State Aids Control Society.
“The road to transformation was long and hard but I made it through. There is no way that could have happened without God’s help,” says Manzoor with a smile.
Assembly, Parl polls to be held together possibly in May
Srinagar, Dec 11: Election Commission of India is preparing to club the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections in Jammu and Kashmir earlier next year, while it has initiated the process for the polls.
According to a letter dispatched by the Chief Electoral Officer—a copy of which lies with The Kashmir Monitor—the district election officers have been directed to send a proposal of appointment of returning officers and assistant returning officers for Lok Sabha and Assembly polls.
The letter has been sent following the Election Commission of India sought the details about the officials.
An official associated with the CEO said they have been told that the Assembly polls would be clubbed with Lok Sabha.
“The elections may be held in March or in April,” the official told The Kashmir Monitor.
The official said the poll body has directed them to start preparations for the polls.
“The security is one of the issues. On the pattern of urban local bodies and Panchayat polls, the Assembly and Parliament elections will be held in a phased manner,” the official said.
“When forces are deployed for the Lok Sabha polls in the state, it would be convenient for election authorities to hold the Assembly polls simultaneously,” the official said.
Mentioning a Supreme Court direction, the official said the outer limit for holding fresh polls after the dissolution of a House is six months.
National Conference has demanded for joint Assembly and Parliament polls, following the dissolution of the House.
The Jammu and Kashmir Assembly has a six-year term while other assemblies and the Lok Sabha have a five-year term.
The term of the prematurely terminated government was to end on March 16, 2021.
The Governor, Satya Pal Malik, dissolved the Assembly shortly after the People’s Democratic Party leader Mehbooba Mufti staked claim to form a government with the support of NC and Congress.
She cited a collective strength of 56 MLAs in the 87-member House.
Militants kill 4 cops, flee with rifles in Shopian
Srinagar, Dec 11: Four J&K policemen were killed after militants attacked a police post in Zainapora area of south Kashmir’s Shopian district on Tuesday.
A police official said a group of militants opened fire at the police post, resulting in the on spot death of three security guards and injuries to another at Zainapora.
The injured cop was taken to a local hospital where from he was referred to a hospital in Srinagar. However, he succumbed on way to Srinagar, said the official.
The policemen were inside their guard room when the militants fired at them anddecamped with their service rifles.
The slain cops were identified as Constable Anees Ahmad (Belt No. 480/SPN), resident of Kulgam, selection grade constable Abdul Majid (193/SPN), resident of Ganderbal, Constable Mehraj-ud-din (477/SPN), resident of Hajin Bandipora and constable Hameedullah (860/SPN), resident of Anantnag.
Majid was the fourth one to die in the attack.
The area was soon cordoned off and a search operation was launched.
Media reports quoting police sources said that six Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM)militants led by former police officer Adil Bashir, who left the force after stealing eight rifles in October, were believed to be involved in the attack.
JeM militant outfit claimed the responsibility of the attack.
A JeM spokesperson Muhammad Hassan, according to a statement issued to media, said: “As per initial reports, three Indian forces (personnel) have been killed while several others critically injured.”
Hassan, according to the statement, said they snatched four rifles from the cops.
Later in the day, the wreath-laying ceremony for the slain cops took place in District Police Lines, Shopian.
“Civil and Police Officers including Munir Ahmed Khan, ADGP (Security/Law & Order/HG), IGP Kashmir S. P. Pani, DIG SKR Amit Kumar laid floral wreaths on the mortal remains and paid rich tributes to the slain cops “who made supreme sacrifice in the line of duty,” said a police spokesperson.
“Among others who paid floral tributes including SP Shopian, DC Shopian, officers and jawans of the district and officers from other forces,” the spokesman added.
Governor Satya Pal Malik expressed grief over the loss of lives of policemen.
In a message Governor has prayed for eternal peace to the departed souls and conveyed his sympathies to the bereaved families.
On Twitter, former chief minister Omar Abdullah too condemned the attack: “I strongly condemn the attack on the police post in Shopian &condole the deaths of three police personnel in the line of duty. I pray for their souls & for the speedy recovery of those injured in this attack (sic)”.
Peoples Conference (PC) chairman and former minister Sajad Gani Lone called the attack in Shopian another “mindless act of violence”.
Sajad tweeted: “The attack in Shopian on police personnel is yet another mindless act of violence. My heartfelt condolences to the families of the policemen who laid down their lives in the line of duty.”
BJP shaken, Congress break in
New Delhi, Dec 11: Ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Tuesday suffered heavy election defeats in two states, with another on a knife edge, in a bruising day of results that exposed the party’s vulnerability less than six months before the all-important 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Ending its prolonged electoral reversals, a reinvigorated Congress produced a resilient comeback as it is on course to oust the BJP to form its governments in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.
Madhya Pradesh, meanwhile, is witnessing a tantalisingly close fight between the ruling BJP and the opposition Congress.
The governing BJP vote collapsed by 17 percentage points in Rajasthan state and by at least 12 points in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, all part of the Hindi heartland where Indian governments are traditionally made or broken.
Those losses, as well as the revival of a Congress party frequently written off in the past five years, had analysts revising their predictions for next year’s national polls, which Modi had been expected to win in a cakewalk.
The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), on the other hand, secured a thumping majority in Telangana while MNF has defeated Congress in the latter’s last bastions in Northeast.
TRS chief K ChandrashekarRao’s gamble for early polls paid rich dividends with the ruling party winning 57 seats and leading in 30 of the 119 constituencies. The Congress-TDP alliance, ‘Prajakutami’, has won 14 seats and is leading in 7, according to the Election Commission.
Addressing a press conference later in the day, KCR said TRS would play a crucial role in the national political arena. “We dedicate this victory to the people of Telangana. This is a positive vote for us. We are going to play a very crucial role in national politics. We will give a new definition to the national political scenario” he said. Rao, who is set to return as CM for a second term, further said, “Today’s results…Telangana has shown the way to the whole nation. Today, Telangana stands (as) a non-Congress, non-BJP state.”
The outcome of the elections is significant as Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan account for 65 Lok Sabha seats, of which the BJP grabbed 62 in 2014 when the Narendra Modi wave was at its high.