When Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad visits Gujarat next week, he has a special gift for a family in the state — an abandoned Gujarati pilgrim nursed in the Kashmir valley since 2006.
Taking everyone by surprise, Azad on Monday morning visited Mathur Bhai Padhiyar, 41, a resident of Gujarat, at the Government Psychiatric Diseases Hospital, Srinagar, where the latter is being treated since 2006.
"I am visiting Gujarat very soon. I will make the person rejoin his family back home," said Azad, who spoke with the patient in Gujarati and inquired about his well-being.
Mathur Bhai's landing in Kashmir has a typical script of a Bollywood movie. On June 7, 2006, the police admitted him to the hospital after noticing his "unusual behaviour".
He had come along with a group of Gujarati pilgrims to Amarnath cave shrine.
"He was suffering from schizophrenia. Such patients lose insight. He did not know what is going on," said Dr Arshad Hussain, a consultant with the hospital.
The state administration asked the hospital to treat him till his full recovery.
Hussain said Mathur Bhai responded to the medication very fast.
"He has been clinically well for a long time now. He is fit to leave hospital and live a normal life," said Dr Hussain.
A hospital official, wishing anonymity, said two years ago the administration got in touch with the Gujarat police and identified the family and native place of the patient.
Mathur Bhai hails from Ankalv area in Anand district of Gujarat. The police had informed his brother Jinknash Bhai Chandu Bhai Padhiyar, but did not get any response, possibly fearing he might have to foot the hospital bill.
"We are not charging anything from the family. We are ready to bear the travel expenses if they will come and take him along," said Dr Hussain.
However, Mathur Bhai's reunion with his family appeared certain after Azad promised to bear all the expenses needed to shift him to Gujarat.