Sixteen years ago, three bullets crippled lower limbs of Arshad Ahmad Pandit (37) during a cross firing between militants and security forces in Srinagar. After six years of mulling over an idea, Pandit has worked on a hope for paraplegic patients to drive around freely in a four-wheeler by innovating a rare car with all functions at arms length away.
"My necessity made me an innovator. I did not want to depend on others to drive me around and take to my office," Pandit told the Hindustan Times.
On May 25, 1995, Pandit, a resident of Srinagar's Lal Bazaar area, was on his way home near Jawahar Nagar when a gunfight broke out between militants and security forces. Caught between the fire, bullets hit Pandit, damaging his spinal cord and lower limbs.
"The three bullets that hit me made be paraplegic from waist downwards. I was 21 then with a graduation degree. For two years, I remained bed ridden. Thereafter, I was able to get a job at Srinagar's Sher-i-Kashmir Institue of Medical Sciences hospital since I had a degree in medical technology. But I was not able to drive to my office on my own and it was an extra job on my elder brother," said Pandit.
Pandit would gaze at his car from a distance to make it work for him. "It was for five years, I kept thinking about the idea. My family was pivot and encouraged me. I zeroed in on a local mechanic and discussed the idea. It took one year to make prototype of the car," said Pandit.
The car has all function under the shaft of steering. "It functions like a scooter where speed and brake is possible by hands only. Now I am not dependent on anybody to drive me around," said Pandit.
Pandit's Maruti Alto car has accelerator, brake and clutch controls in his right hand. "Practise on it has made me a perfect driver," says confident Pandit.
Pandit said he is in contact with other innovators to upgrade the car to help other paralegic patients. "I want to help other paraplegic patients by modifying cars as per their needsss too. At least, by becoming their motivation," said Pandit.