Mangaluru: He served the Army for about 16 years and was part of several operations. His deformed fingers might make one think that he was injured in an Army operation.
The actual reason is not an encounter with the enemy but his long service in the Himalayan region which has affected his health. Umesh of Navunda village in Belthangady Taluk who served as Havildar, is now working as Village Accountant and continues to serve the people.
Recently, Karnataka mourned the death of three brave soldiers who died at Siachen in an avalanche. It is a known fact that the climatic conditions in the Himalayas have resulted in the death of several soldiers.
But not many know the situation of soldiers who spent their lives in these cold conditions guarding our country’s borders. Even today, they suffer from various health problems.
Umesh is one such hero who despite arthritis, continues to serve society. “I am unable to walk on stones and rough surfaces as my feet have turned too sensitive. My fingers look deformed and I suffer from joint pain. This worsens especially during winter. Doctors call it Rheumatoid Arthritis,” explains Umesh.
He finds it difficult to sit for long and cannot do all the work he used to earlier. He is under medication and does exercise and yoga regularly. His arthritis problem cropped up after serving for over six years in the Himalayan region.
“I forget all my pain when I go on field work,” said Umesh, who served in the 191 Field Regiment of Indian Army. “After joining the army in 1995 as driver, I served in various places like Jammu and Kashmir, the Rajasthan border and also served in the Kargil War and during the attack on Parliament, besides working in Gujarat during the earthquake and riots. I had done my bit in these places,” said Umesh.
“My initial service was in Kashmir (Kangdar Sector). It was around 1998 that I started getting pain in my joints. The problem decreased after I was posted to places like Rajasthan and Gujarat. But when I again returned to Jammu and Kashmir, it worsened. I served in Akmur sector, Prappur Sector (near Siachen) Kangda and Tawang (Arunachal Pradesh).
Initially I had severe pain and later, my fingers started to bend and get disfigured,” he disclosed. “In Pratappur the climate is very cold. It dips below -45 degree during winter. This increases the problem of arthritis and joint pain,” Umesh said. Despite such problems, Umesh is happy serving the country.
“I am what I am today because of the army. I had a chance to serve the country and got recognition because of that. There is no question of feeling sorry because of the problems,” he added.
Umesh hails from a poor family in Maladi village of Belthangady Taluk. His father worked as a coolie and mother as beedi worker. After his PUC, he joined the Army as it was his childhood dream....