The Telegraph
Thursday , June 12 , 2014
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Dispur yet to honour promise

Guwahati, June 11: First a militant bullet left him paralysed waist down. Now, the unfulfilled promise of help by the department has made him demoralised.

Biraj Das, a Special Police Officer (SPO) paralysed in a militant attack in November 2012, still awaits financial assistance for his treatment while his brother Ananda continues to make the rounds of Dispur seeking help.

“A few days after your newspaper highlighted our plight, senior superintendent of police Anand Prakash Tiwari came to our house and promised to help us with his treatment. But we have got nothing yet. On Monday, I visited the home department to check if the bill of Rs 7 lakh, which I submitted and pleaded for the government’s help, has been cleared. But the officials told me that there is no hope of its clearance. They (police) seem to have forgotten us,” Ananda told this correspondent here today.

Biraj, a resident of Panikhaiti here, was recruited along with 800 SPOs to counter militants in 2008. The rebels had attacked the SPO at Serfanguri in Kokrajhar district, about 280km from Guwahati, where he was posted in 2008 to guard officials engaged by National Highways Authority of India for the East-West Corridor project. Doctors in Chennai could not remove the bullet lodged in his spine as the operation would have damaged his spinal chord further.

“I had joined the police to serve the country but when I am in trouble nobody seems bothered, except my family. I want to stand on my feet again but it seems impossible without financial help,” Biraj said today.

The Telegraph in its January 22 edition had highlighted how the SPO’s family had spent Rs 16 lakh, sold a plot of land but was still struggling to meet his treatment costs.

No financial assistance from the state government had reached him although his service agreement stated that SPOs are entitled to get ex gratia in case of injury or death while on duty.

His family is unable to pay Rs 2 lakh for a stem cell therapy in New Delhi, which was advised by doctors at the Brain and Spinal Hospital, Chennai.

Following the publication of the news, Tiwari on January 23 had told The Telegraph: “I will take all papers and discuss with AIIMS and a hospital in Bangalore. I will also provide other help for his livelihood. My DG has told me that he will be provided help as per my assessment.”

Asked today why Das had not been provided any assistance, Tiwari said, “We have discussed (his case) with good doctors but there is some confusion among doctors. Some expert doctors from abroad will visit AIIMS, probably in July, and we will try for his treatment after taking their opinion.”

The family spends Rs 500 per day on his physiotherapy and the treatment costs are spiralling.

“Doctors say the stem cell therapy will revive the cells of his spinal chord and help him stand on his feet again. But we don’t have money to spend another Rs 2 lakh,” Ananda said.