Ayurvedic Spa for Madni, Daily Biriyani for Kasab but 26/11 braveheart left to fend for himself

published on June 12, 2012

26/11 braveheart left to fend for himself
J Gopikrishnan | New Delhi- The Pioneer

Though paralysed and left wheelchair-bound in his selfless service to the nation while saving the lives of 40 persons from Hotel Oberoi during the Mumbai terror attacks, NSG commando and Shaurya Chakra awardee PV Manesh will now have to foot the expenses of his Ayurvedic treatment on his own. And the treatment will continue lifelong.

An unmoved Army Headquarters has categorically informed the Delhi High Court that except allopathy, the forces could not consider reimbursement for treatment under any other medicinal systems, since they could not bend the stringent medical audit rules of the forces.

In fact, the Army HQ has even maintained that the option of permitting an individual to choose the system of medicine he/she desires is not in the interest and ethos of a disciplined force like the Armed Forces.

Incidentally, Defence Minister AK Antony has been using the Ayurvedic system of medicine for the past 15 years and undergoes regular annual treatment for his spondylitis-related problems.

The Pioneer, in its July 20, 2011 edition, had reported the plight of the NSG commando Manesh, who was in coma for six months after shrapnel from the grenade thrown by terrorists pierced his head.

Manesh, who was awarded the Shaurya Chakra for the courageous operation in Hotel Oberoi, Mumbai, on November 27, 2008, was wheelchair-bound and had an unremovable shrapnel in his head when he was discharged after the allopathic treatments from Delhi and Mumbai Army hospitals.

The right side of his body from head to toe was paralysed. The Army gave full salary to him by attaching him to the Territorial Army unit near his home town Kannur in Kerala.

For the past two years, Manesh has been undergoing Ayurveda treatment, which has now made him walk around 100 metres. Travelling 300 kilometres to a well-known private Ayurveda Hospital in Palakad district twice every month, his monthly Ayurvedic medicine expenses come to about `4,000. He needs the treatment for the rest of his life.

After The Pioneer report, a Public Interest Litigation was filed by Advocate Arjun Harkauli at Delhi High Court. Hearing the fate of the brave commando, in August first week, last year then Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Sanjiv Khanna directed the Health Ministry, Defence Ministry, Army, Navy and Air Force to take a positive approach.

The Bench also reminded the Government and Forces about the Central Government’s National Policy on Indian System of Medicines and Homeopathy-2002. Observing that all Central Government employees are eligible for reimbursement under other systems of medicines, the bench asked why this policy had not been implemented in the Armed forces and directed the Government and all the Service chiefs to reply within three months.

The Director General of Armed Forces Medical Services (DG-AFMS), representing all the three Forces, however, replied after eight months. “The issue of introduction of Indian Systems of Medicine in the Armed Forces has repeatedly been considered and not agreed to due to valid scientific reasons… The process in the AFMS is monitored very closely by allopathic qualified doctors, which form the hierarchy. The Indian Systems of medicine are completely different and the monitoring progress of patients is outside the purview of Allopathic System. Any deficiency or resultant complications would lead to legal problems,” said Lt Gen Mandeep Singh, DG-AFMS.

Citing “problems” in allowing reimbursement of expenses for the life-saving Ayurvedic treatment of the wounded Commando, the Armed forces said: “The AFMS has in existence a very stringent system of medical audit and the other systems cannot lend themselves to such an audit… The option of permitting an individual to choose the system of medicine he/she desires is not in the interest and ethos of a disciplined forces like the Armed Forces, where sometimes strict measures have to be enforced not only to keep an individual fighting fit at all times but also to ensure that a person is free from any infectious disease, which may jeopardise the health and well being of his fellow combatant.”

Arjun Harkauli, the advocate who filed the PIL, said he would “go ahead with the legal proceedings by challenging the Armed forces’ blind laws to ensure justice to Manesh and other brave soldiers who sacrificed their life for the nation”.

“Armed Forces are clearly violating the Government policy on other Systems of Medicines due to the resistance from certain section of allopathic doctors in the forces. Forces are deliberately attempting to avoid merits of the issue. This reply to court shows non-application of mind and is contrary to a 10-year-old Government policy. We are reviewing the reply and shall be taking appropriate legal recourse soon,” said the advocate.

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