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.
Lethpora bombing fallout: Kashmiris in Jammu, elsewhere face rage
Ensure Kashmiris are safe: Centre to states
Srinagar, Feb 16: Tensions continued to simmer in J&K after violence against Kashmiris was reported in Jammu and other states across India on Saturday as well.
The incidents are fallout of the Thursday’s bombing on the highway in Pulwama in which 49 CRPF troopers were killed after a local Jaish fidayeen rammed an explosive filled vehicle into the forces’ convoy.
Like Friday, Saturday too saw mobs attacking a number of quarters belonging to Kashmiris, especially ones at Janipur area, amid an officially declared curfew in the state’s winter capital.
A number of people called from Janipur and said they were attacked by the frenzied mobs despite the presence of police.
The mobs entered inside the premises and attacked quarters of Kashmiris while police, according to the callers, remained a mute spectator.
On Friday, there was widespread violence in which mobs torched 30 vehicles and damaged over 50 of them during a strike called by the Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industries and Bar Association against Thursday’s attack.
Not just in Jammu, Kashmiris, including students and businessmen, in others states were at the receiving end of right-wing violence.
Some of the Valleyites putting up in Bihar, Dehradun and Punjab were targeted by unruly mobs, who asked them to vacate their rented premises and leave the state.
Students being the soft target were beaten ruthlessly by the angered crowd in Dehradun. The 12 Kashmiri boys are students of Dev Bhoomi, BFIT, and Alpine college of Dehradun.
Others putting up in rented accommodations and hostels in Dehradun and Haryana were forced to vacate their lodgings by the landlords. The anger was predictably visible on social media with students receiving abusive texts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.“I was asked by landlord to vacate within 24 hours,” said Umar, who studies in a college in Dehradun.
“I can’t think of travelling by air since the fares are too high. To make the matters worse, the highway is closed and Jammu is under siege. In such a scenario, going by road is not an option,” he lamented.
Asked why he was asked to vacate, Umar said: “The goons threatened to vandalise the property of my landlord if I didn’t leave the building.”
Another student hailing from Kupwara who too studies in Dehradun, said, “Our hopes of studying here for quality education are dashed. We are vulnerable and have nowhere to go. The politicians will never give a thought about our well-being. Their concern is to gain votes.”
A student studying in Jammu wishing not to be named said, “I received threatening texts on FB and Twitter. The sender asked me that revenge will be taken, using many cuss words.”
Many videos surfaced on social media showing the escalating mob violence. In one of videos, the Kashmiri shopkeepers in Bihar are threatened by mob to close their shops in 24 hours and leave the state.
Jammu has remained on the edge since Friday as bricks were hurled towards the residential quarters of Durbar Move employees. A similar pattern was witnessed on Saturday in sensitive areas like Janipora and Rehari, Subhashnagar.
Secretariat Employees Union President Ghulam Rasool Mir condemned the attacks and urged the administration to ensure the safety of the people from Kashmir.
“The feeling of defenselessness in the face of mob violence cannot be described. Despite the assurances that the security cover will be provided, we know from bitter experience that the cops won’t act when mobs run amok,” he said.
Kashmiris out of the valley, meanwhile, continued to share on social media the dangers they faced.
Akash Hassan, a valley-based journalist posted on Facebook: “I am in Jammu from last two days and without a reliable internet connection. The situation is terrible here. Can someone help me get out from Raghunath Bazar to Chenni area? I am confined to my hotel room. There is strict curfew.
I don’t know how long hoteliers will allow Kashmiris to stay in their hotels. They are also running short of supplies.”
Azmat Arif, a resident of Awantipora had this to post: “I have my brother at Dehradun. He is studying there. They are 8 students, no one is giving them any shelter … if anyone can get some help from anywhere …that will be much appreciated… I have tried to contact police.. and they are not taking my calls…. they are hiding right now….please someone help (sic).”
The messages are being circulated on social media platforms asking Kashmiris living outside to exercise caution.
Fellow Kashmiris are being asked to avoid discussion on Kashmir, stay in groups and avoid going to markets alone.
Jammu and Kashmir Police on Saturday said they have spoken to their counterparts in Dehradun following reports of harassment of Kashmiri students there. Besides, they have issued helpline numbers to ensure the safety of Kashmiris’ outside the state.
Ensure Kashmiris are safe: Centre to states
Press Trust of India
New Delhi, Feb 16: The Centre Saturday asked all states to ensure safety and security of the students and people from Jammu and Kashmir living in their areas in the wake of threats to them in some parts of the country, officials said.
The advisory came hours after Home Minister Rajnath Singh assured an all-party meeting of doing the needful for the protection of the Kashmiri students and people who were allegedly threatened after the attack in Pulwama in which 49 CRPF personnel were killed.
A Home Ministry official said there have been some reports of students and other residents of Jammu and Kashmir experiencing threats and intimidation. “Therefore, the Home Ministry today issued an advisory to all states/UTs to take necessary measures to ensure their safety and security,” the official said.
Some Kashmiri youths studying in the Uttarakhand capital, Dehradun, have alleged that they were harassed and have been asked by their landlords to vacate accommodations fearing attacks on their properties in the aftermath of the attack.
Governor reviews situation, appeals for peace
Jammu, Feb 16: Governor Satya Pal Malik convened a high level meeting at the Raj Bhavan on Saturday and reviewed the present law and order situation in the State in the aftermath of a major militant attack on a CRPF convoy and killings 49 troopers at Lethpora on Thursday.
The Governor directed the Police to take strict action without mercy against those indulging in any type of violence, arson or rumour mongering irrespective of political and religious affiliation.
The Governor reviewed the situation of students from Jammu and Kashmir State in various Universities and Colleges across the country.
He was informed that the Liaison Officers appointed at all major locations were working effectively and coordinating with University Authorities and local Police ensuring the safety of our students. Some minor developments happened in Baba Fareed Institute of Technology, Dehradun, Maharishi Markand University, Ambala and Chitkara University, Batti (HP).
In all three places, Liaison Officers worked with the Deans/ Vice Chancellors to ensure safety of J&K students. The Governor directed that the LOs should continue to be in close touch with J&K Students and ensure their safety.
The Governor was informed that the Divisional Commissioner, Jammu held the Peace Committee meeting in Jammu on Friday.
In the meeting, all Parties universally condemned the unfortunate incidents in Jammu city and agreed to restrain their supporters from indulging in any unlawful behaviour.
The Governor directed Divisional Commissioner, Jammu to hold another Peace Committee Meeting today and appeal to all parties to maintain peace and harmony.
The Governor asked all Political parties and senior Political leaders to appeal to people to maintain peace and harmony. He requested them not to pay heed to rumours or misleading information that is being circulated.
He appealed to the Political parties that in case any untoward incident comes to their knowledge, they should report it immediately to the Police or to anyone in the Government who will respond immediately rather than escalating the situation by calling for counter strikes in other parts of the State.
The Governor stated that the situation in Jammu has been restored back to almost normal and it should be our collective endeavour to maintain this.
The Governor appealed to the people to maintain peace and communal harmony so that the forces trying to disrupt the peaceful environs for their petty interests are defeated. He said that the people of the State have always believed in mutual brotherhood and co-existence throughout the ages.
The meeting was attended by Advisors, Vijay Kumar, Khursheed Ahmad Ganai, K K Sharma and K Skandan besides B V R Subramanyam, Chief Secretary, Dilbagh Singh, Director General of Police, Umang Narula, Principal Secretary to Governor, and Shaleen Kabra Principal Secretary, Home.
Jitendra meets Governor: Dr. Jitendra Singh, Minister of State, Prime Minister’s Office, called on Governor Satya Pal Malik at Raj Bhavan here on Saturday.
Governor and Dr. Singh discussed various important issues including prevailing law and order situation in Jammu. They hoped that the situation will normalize soon as the people of Jammu region are known for upholding the values of communal harmony and mutual brotherhood.
Dr Jitendra apprised the Governor that he met various sections of the society in Jammu including college students and appealed to them to maintain peace and harmony in the region.
Div Com establishes helpline
Srinagar, Feb 16: The office of Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir Saturday issued an official communiqué informing that a helpline has been established in the office in view of the concerns ventilated by certain quarters, especially those students residing and studying outside the state and to overcome the same.
According to the communiqué, the helpline numbers are Additional Commissioner, Kashmir 9906578433, 0194-2478663, Assistant Commissioner (Central) 9419484646, 0194-2473135/2483718, Principal Pvt. Secretary to Divisional Commissioner 9419094535, 0194-2455357/2452643.
The helpline has also been established in respective district headquarters of Kashmir Division.
Traders calls for valley-wide bandh today
Srinagar, Feb 16: While threatening to boycott trade with Jammu, trade bodies in Kashmir on Saturday called for a shutdown on Sunday against the incidents of miscreants attacking Kashmiris in the winter capital.
Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCC&I) and Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Association (KTMF) held a joint protest at Press Enclave.
Addressing media persons, president, KCC&I Sheikh Ashiq Ahmad urged the government to bring the situation to normal.“The atrocities on innocent people in Jammu should stop. We should not be forced to boycott trade with Jammu,” he said.
The trade bodies also observed a shutdown after 3 pm in city centre Lal Chowk and adjoining areas to protests attacks on Kashmiris in Jammu and outside the state.
Pertinently, curfew continued to remain in place in Jammu where dozens of vehicles belonging to Kashmiris were torch by a mob since Friday in reaction to the bombing attack on Thursday which killed 49 CRPF troopers on the highway near Lethpora.
“We would not tolerate the ill treatment meted to our elders, students and others. Kashmiris have always strengthened the pillars of communal harmony,” said president KTMF, Mohammad Sadiq Baqal.
J&K High Court Bar Association Srinagar too held a protest march at Saddar Court here, condemning the attacks on Kashmiris.
The Bar Association appealed to the International Community including the United Nations, Amnesty International, Asia Watch, other human rights organizations of the world and members of Indian Civil Society to come to the rescue of the people of Kashmir.
They appealed them to save Kashmiris from the brutalities being inflicted on them by the “ruthless communal and fanatic forces of Jammu and other places of India.”
In order to show solidarity with their Kashmiri brethren, the Bar Association also decided to support the Kashmir Bandh call issued by Kashmir Traders Federation for 17 February.
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