CHHATTISGARH: It was a hot summer day of June 14, 2014 when Chitrasen Sahu boarded a train from Raipur, bound for Bilaspur in Chhattisgarh. At Bhatapara station, Sahu stepped out to buy a water bottle and rushed back to the coach as the train started leaving the platform. While trying to get on board the train, he slipped; his feet were stuck between the platform and a moving coach.
Sahu survived; but he lost his one leg. Worse, owing to medical negligence, doctors had to amputate his other leg. Belonging to a farmer’s family in Balod district of the state, the young engineering graduate wanted to join the armed forces. The accident snatched his dream. Months of grief gave way to a pointed question: What next? First, he was to get used to the artificial limbs. “I was like a child learning to walk about,” recalls Sahu. But, like a child, he loved his freedom to move. That passion to move has taken him to inaccessible peaks in recent years.
He is the first Indian double-leg amputee to climb Mount Kilimanjaro (Africa), Mount Kosciuszko (tallest mountain Australia) and Mount Elbrus (Russia) where the temperature dips between minus 15 and 25 degree C with snowfall and wind speed at 70 kmph. He didn’t stop there. He carried out skydiving from 14,000 feet, scuba (underwater diving) and is a national para swimmer. “An unknown thrill ran through me when I reached those peaks and hoisted the Tricolour. The unmatched feeling got a further boost as people from other countries appreciated my feats,” says Sahu.
The recognition came in baby steps that he took towards extremely tough tasks. “I believe in small, careful steps while preparing myself for the long haul. Consistency is the key to reaching a new milestone,” he says. Before venturing into new activities, he carried out detailed analyses, assessed the risks involved and how they can be pursued with his disability.
After his accident, many started pitying him. “It is difficult not to lose courage when people around you make you feel helpless,” said Rakesh Singh Thakur, founder Jan Samarthya Society, which works for the welfare of the disabled. “He works with zeal as he tries diverse actions,” said his close associate Ravindra Kshatriya of Sumit Foundation, which works on healthcare aspects.
When Sahu saw the plight of other disabled people who were denied four-wheelers registered in their names, he fought a legal battle and after 20 months, finally won in the Chhattisgarh High Court, paving the way for a driving licence for the differently-abled.
Over the years, Sahu has evolved himself as a speaker. He attends TedX events inspiring others to nurture a positive vision towards life. He is also involved in ‘Mission Inclusion’ that builds motivation among persons with disabilities and creates awareness about their rights. “To conquer adversity, one primarily needs determination and self-confidence. One should keep off extreme thoughts and work hard while chasing a dream,” says Sahu, who is a firm believer in Rhonda Byrne’s theory: “The secret of ‘Law of Attraction’ tells us that whatever we believe will manifest.”
Scaling new heights on artificial limbs
Chitrasen Sahu is the first Indian double-leg amputee to climb Mount Kilimanjaro (Africa), Mount Kosciuszko (the tallest mountain Australia) and Mount Elbrus (Russia). He has also carried out skydiving from 14,000 feet, scuba (underwater diving) and is a national para swimmer. He has done all this after getting used to his artificial limbs.