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Lt Col?s special army?

india Updated: Jan 31, 2007 02:11 IST

IF ONE were to describe an Armyman, he would be inclined to depict him as a well-built man with a prominent moustache and dressed in olive greens, wielding an assault weapon, sitting atop an armoured vehicle and firing at the enemy.
All of this may be true, but not always. Here is an officer who is different and is doing something for the differently-abled children, to educate them and to make them self-reliant.

Meet Lt Col D C V Shah. He is officer-in-charge of the firing ranges at Infantry School, Mhow. On a two-year study leave, Lt Col Shah has initiated a project named Karuna at the Masihi Vidyalaya along with a few members of the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA).

Karuna is the lone school in Mhow for differently-abled children. The students here are treated as special children. Twelve children from Mhow and nearby areas in the six to 14 years age group are being groomed here under a qualified physiotherapist Dr Vinita Boudh, two trained teachers and a maid.

Lt Col Shah said since long he had wanted to open such a school. He recalls how, many years ago, he saw his friend struggle to properly bring up his challenged son.  It was then that he decided to do something for such children. His dream was fulfilled when in July 2005 he started the school with like-minded friends at the YMCA.

The monthly expenses work out to approximately Rs 7000, which are met exclusively through donations, he said praising the people of Mhow for their charity.

Presently, there are 12 students in the school and the parents of several others have expressed the desire to get their wards admitted here.

According to a rough estimate, there are about 400 such challenged children in and around Mhow and no such school, he said.  This school would prove to be a paradise for parents of special children. Probably, the making of a special army of special children!

Churchill’s footprints…
SIR WINSTON Churchill in Mhow! Yes, very few people know that Churchill had been to Mhow before becoming the prime minister of the United Kingdom. Churchill first came here as a Subaltern (an officer in the British Army). A book ‘Glimpses of Mhow’ published by the Infantry School, Mhow, in 1986 said, “Sir Winston Churchill was stationed in Mhow as an officer with the 31st Punjab Infantry and was with the Malakand field force where he was Mentioned in Dispatches and obtained a medal with clasp.”

He was here like another great personality – the Duke of Wellington. According to old-timers in Mhow and certain records with the Army, Churchill used to live in Bungalow No 59 on Mall Road, which is Joggers Park now.
The bungalow on Mall Road had gradually crumbled due to neglect and age. It was pulled down and Joggers’ Park built in its place by the Infantry School, Mhow.

There are also stories about his visit to Mhow during World War I (1914-1919) as a war correspondent of the British Army.

Skeptics may doubt his visit in these documents and books but there is more evidence of Churchill’s trip to Mhow between 1896 and 1898.

The proof of this is with Murtaza Ali of Bharat Stationary whose family owned the Rising Star Printing Press, which was started in 1892 (about four years before Churchill came to India).

Churchill may have visited the printing press for some work and there is a paper slip containing his signature. A cherished possession of Murtaza!