Grit does not need arms

Born without arms, Mohammed Sultan taught himself to write with his feet. He is now pursuing his master’s at University of Kashmir and aspires to be an IAS officer. Mir Iqbal reports.

Mohammad Sultan

He has no hands. But that does not stop him from pursuing formal education. He tactfully holds the pen between his toes and scribbles away.

Mohammed Sultan, 24, is a physically challenged student from Wusan Bangil, a small village in north Kashmir’s Tangmarg area. Despite his physical disability and scarce financial resources, he has successfully competed with normal students. He is pursuing MA Education from University of Kashmir as a regular student.

“Many would have cursed themselves for being born with such handicap, but I have accepted it and taken it as a challenge. Being born without both limbs is something that shouldn’t have happened to me. But since it has, I try to make most of my life,” says Sultan. It was a ray of hope for Sultan, when a team of doctors from Dehradun visited his home to plant artificial limbs, but those limbs will remain hanged to his shoulders without any movement or life. Sultan refused. “That would only have added burden to my shoulders,” he says.

Sultan has taught himself to manage most of the chores without any assistance. He says, “I have adopted a lot over the years. I use my feet to write, to wear cloths, put on my shoes, put on my socks, flip pages of a book or use the toilet. I can do almost everything except fasten my waist belt.”

Sultan had his schooling from Government Higher Secondary School Tarhama. He then graduated in arts subjects from Government Degree College Bemina and later passed B.ed in 2008-09 with more than 70 percent marks. He is pursuing Masters in Education from Kashmir University.

“My education journey has been full of hardships. Boarding a bus during the rush hours was very difficult for me. Even there is no special provision for physically challenged students in the State Board of School Education. Like seating arrangement in classes, while writing exams, sports facilities for specially challenged students etc.”

However, Dean Students Welfare University of Kashmir has started career counseling for physically challenged students from last few years. These students are informed about scholarships and other schemes.

“We have provided free bus service to Sultan to and from Tangmarg,” said Shaheel coordinator of the Special Cell, University of Kashmir.

Sultan had expected the university to at least provide suitable seating for him in the classroom. “I am in the 3rd semester of my course but the authorities yet to provide specially designed furniture on which I could sit and jot down the lectures,” Sultan said.

There are certain areas where physically challenged people face a lot of problems and even negligence from the authorities. “I did B.ed and am pursuing master’s degree in Education. I am eligible to appear in Public Service examination (for lecturer post). But I am sure that even if I top the exams that can’t guarantee me a job, just because I can’t write on a Black Board,” Sultan said.

He has earned respect among his classmates. “The authorities should empathize with this section of the society, so that they can become independent individuals and inspiration for others as well,” says Jamseed one of his batch mates.

The likes of Sultan have emerged as an example for the physically challenged. He believes, “God does everything with a purpose. The key is to make the most of what you have.”

Apart from lack of facilities for the physically challenged in public places, offices and transport, the society on the whole is apparently cruel with them. “There have been the times when I wanted to give up studies. Because of some negative minded persons in our society, who sometimes used to tease and discouraged me,” he adds.

Sultan has a dream of helping the poor and his parents in their old age. He says that his parents have helped him all along.

“As our son is not able to work in fields, we supported him fully in pursuing his studies, in spite of meager financial resources so that our son can stand on his own legs not only to feed himself but also become a helping hand in our old age,” say his parents.

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