Marooned far from home, a Tamilian yearns to return to his family

Marooned far from home, a Tamilian yearns to return to his family
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Doctors appeal philanthropic persons to help Zakir meet his family

Srinagar: Zakir Ahmad, a resident of southern India, has been forced to stay at the Psychiatric Diseases Hospital, Srinagar, for the last six months because his family has refused to take him home even though he has recovered from a disorder following treatment at the hospital.
Zakir, 35, a mechanical engineer from Vellore town of Tamil Nadu, has been confined to the hospital ward since November 2016 when he was admitted there. Despite his recovery from bipolar disorder six months ago, he continues to stay with serious psychiatric patients as his family has refused to take him, probably due to poverty.
“I want to go home. I am absolutely fine now. I miss my family, especially my Abba and Ammi,” he says.
“I feel jailed at the hospital now. Though I have many friends in the hospital but they can’t replace my family,” Zakir says.
Zakir, who was designated as Muezzin in a Mathura Grand Mosque during his job posting in Gurgaon, Haryana, says he was heading to participate in a religious congregation in Kashmir but was caught by the army at Kargil.
Last year, he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Srinagar (also known as the Psychiatric Diseases Hospital).
“We received him last year after an Additional District Magistrate, Kargil, issued orders to admit him in the Hospital,” says Dr Arshad Hussain, senior psychiatrist.
Zakir was caught by the army at Kargil town while he was roaming around without any identity proof, Dr Hussain says.
“The army had later handed him over to the local police which produced him before the Magistrate. Seeing his mental instability, he was sent here. We immediately started his treatment and designated a few employees to take care of him. He has recovered with the efforts of doctors and other staff members,” he says.
Dr Arshad says the hospital administration was able to trace his family who live in Vellore district of Tamil Naidu. However, they refused to take him owing to their poverty.
“They are unwilling to take him, probably because they can’t afford the travel and other expenses due to poverty,” he says.
The Psychiatric Hospital has been facing ethical and legal issues over confining Zakir in the hospital ward after his recovery six months ago.
“We can’t keep him in the hospital for long as he has recovered from a mental illness after our consistent treatment. We appeal to affluent and philanthropic persons to help Zakir meet his family,” says registrar Dr Yuman Kawoos, who treated him.
She says it took Zakir six months to regain normal behaviour after being admitted at the hospital.
“When Zakir narrated his story to us and told us the address and contact numbers of his home, we tried to connect him with his family,” she says.
“We made several calls to the family and finally traced them. But they seem to be unwilling to take him,” Dr Yuman says.
Kashmir Reader also contacted Zakir’s family on a contact number given by him. The call was answered by a woman who was unwilling to reveal her identity when the newspaper to talk to Zakir’s father, Nazeer Ahmad. The lady instead replied that it was wrong number.
However, the Kashmir Reader correspondent pursued the matter, this time under the guise of a business client. Finally, the lady transferred the call to a man who introduced himself as Nazeer Ahmad and wanted to know if everything was fine.
When this correspondent told him he had met Zakir and that the doctors had said he could go home, the father replied, “I am not well and can’t arrange huge travel expenses. That is why I am not coming to take him.”
After 10 minutes of conversation and several assurances of help by the correspondent, Zakir’s father responded positively.
“Ok, I will talk to my family and get back to you,” he told Kashmir Reader and hung up the phone.

 

 

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