Ali Asgar Sheikh returned home from Kashmir on Tuesday but isn’t sure what is more at threat: his life or that of his son’s.
The mason is restless thinking how he will treat four-year-old son Rejaul’s disease that requires expensive medication.
“I was in panic after (the attack in) Kulgam. I wanted to come home somehow. But now I think, maybe it is better to risk my own life for the sake of my son’s treatment,” said Sheikh.
Rejaul suffers from neurocutaneous melanosis, a congenital nerve disorder that could turn malignant. The disorder was first noticed when Rejaul was one and his skin turned black with tumours. He requires medicines worth around Rs 5,000 a month.
Sheikh, who specialises in setting marble and tiles on floors, hails from the Nayagram village of Birbhum’s Muraroi. Sheikh had stopped going to Kashmir after his son was born in 2015, concentrating on work in nearby Rampurhat and Suri.
But after his son developed the complication, Sheikh started going to the Valley again since 2016 so that he could earn more. “Who wants to leave his family and go to Kashmir despite the risks? I cannot afford the treatment that my son needs by working locally,” said Sheikh, one of the 133 workers brought back by the Mamata Banerjee government on Monday.
Doctors at SSKM Hospital in Calcutta had told Sheikh that his son needs continuous treatment. Being a skilled worker, Sheikh earned around Rs 1,500 per day in Kashmir — he makes no more than Rs 700 a day in Bengal.
“I used to spend at least eight months in Kashmir and return with savings that helped me in the treatment of my son and running my family. This time, I panicked after the Kulgam incident. But ever since I boarded the train home, I’vebeen feeling guilty,” Sheikh said.
Trinamul Muraroi MLA Abdur Rahaman said he had spoken to the local block development officer for help in Rejaul’s treatment. “There is another labourer whose 10-year-old son needs surgery. I will try my best to help.”