MAGAM: Zakir Ahmad, a resident of southern India, who spent two years at Psychiatric Diseases Hospital, was finally send-off on Thursday by the doctors and hospital staff.
Zakir’s return has been sponsored by Athrout, a local non-governmental organisation which paid all his travel expenses along with two social workers who accompanied him to his home town in Vellore town of Tamil Nadu.
The 35-year-old mechanical engineer was forced to stay at the Hospital even after significant improvement a year ago because his family had refused to take him home.
“Zakir was excited to go home as he missed his family all along his stay in the hospital. We are also happy to see his recovery and happy departure,” said Dr Yasir.
“He was staying with serious psychiatric patients despite his recovery from bipolar disorder one year ago. His family has refused to take him, probably due to poverty. But, with the efforts of hospital staff, Athrout NGO and media he will meet his family soon,” he said.
Kashmir Reader was first to report about Zakir’s situation and condition at the Hospital. It also talked to his family in Tamil Naidu and mentioned their version also. The story became viral following which Athrout functionaries came forward to help him.
Zakir, who had been a Muezzin at Mathura Grand Mosque, during his job posting in Gurgaon was heading to participate in a religious congregation in Kashmir when he was caught by the army at Kargil.
In 2016, 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,” Dr Arshad Hussain, senior psychiatrist had told Kashmir Reader.
Zakir was caught by the army at Kargil town while he was roaming around without any identity proof, according to Dr Hussain.
“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 said. Dr Arshad said 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 said.
The Psychiatric Hospital was facing ethical and legal issues over confining Zakir in the hospital ward after his recovery six months ago.
“We are happy to help him. It was our responsibility,” said Bilal Nadhvi, who works at Athrout.