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Delhi sweet maker’s son gets first electric prosthetic arm under disability act

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This aspiring artist wants to paint with hands, but there’s a glitch – government has given aid for just one arm.

New Delhi: Ritik’s is a story well known in Old Delhi’s bustling Sadar Bazar. The class 12 student, living in a single-room house in the locality, was born with a congenital deficiency. Neither of his arms are fully formed as he had a rare case of bilateral elbow disarticulation. In spite of being differentially abled, he refused to give up on his hobby of painting. This, he would do with his feet.

All this is set to change as on June 23, Ritik, 17, became the first student in the country to get a free electrically-powered prosthetic limb under provisions of the Right of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016. It was the culmination of a nearly year-long battle for the aid, one which saw the family approach the courts.

The fight though is far from over as the Delhi government has only provided the sweet-maker’s son with a prosthetic for his right arm. It has promised to provide one for his left within a month.

Chance meeting changes lives

Ramvati, Ritik’s mother, says she chanced upon a TV show that demonstrated the use of a prosthetic limb. “I watch TV regularly. Once I saw a boy on the Discovery Channel using a mechanical arm to carry out tasks. He seemed to be at ease. This gave me hope and I decided to get one for my son,” says Ramvati.

On being approached, hospitals in Delhi demanded Rs 10 to 15 lakh for the prosthetic arms.


“It was completely beyond our ability. My husband is a part-time sweet maker. We could not have managed with his income,” says Ramvati,

Their lives changed forever when the family met Ashok Agarwal in Tiz Hazari court. Agarwal, a popular lawyer-activist, filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Delhi High Court on August 25, 2017, demanding artificial limbs for Ritik under the Right of Persons with Disability Act, 2016. Section 17(G) of the Act mandates the government to provide ‘appropriate assistive devices’ free of cost to students with disabilities up to the age of 18.

He helped the family with a certificate from the Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan (LNJP) hospital and took the matter to court. “When I saw him, I felt sorry for the boy. He is so talented. That is when I realised that I could help him procure limbs through the law,” Agarwal says.

The legal battle

The family’s legal battle began after Agarwal took Ritik to the Vidya Sagar Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (VIMHANS) to confirm whether his system can support a prosthetic arm. After getting a nod from the Delhi-based hospital, he wrote to both the state and the central governments asking them to provide the teenager with artificial limbs. Getting no response, he filed a PIL.

In November 2017, the Delhi High Court ruled in Ritik’s favor, directing the state government to provide an artificial limb to the boy within two months. He, however, received only the right arm, seven months later.

The detachable prosthetic arm runs on a battery which needs to be charged for two to three hours. The kit contains two sets of batteries.

“Now, I find it difficult to write, especially using thin pencils. But it won’t take much time for me to get used to the device. After a little practice, I might be able to paint using it. The dream is to paint with my new arms,” Ritik beams.

His mother has been assured of the left arm by the government. She says she should get it within a month.

But Ritik, who is in class 12, does not carry his new device to school.

“Now we don’t send him to school with the mechanical arm attached because he feels heavy on one side. Once he gets the other side, we will start sending him with it,” says his mother. “Moreover, other kids might be curious about his mechanical arm and want to play with it. This could cause some damage to the costly arm”.

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