Most government employees tend to use their 30 days of annual leave to take their families on vacation. Ameer Siddiqui is different. This Delhi resident who works as a government Computer Officer takes off on expeditions to spread disability awareness. Popularly known as Rider Ameer, he has clocked about 53,000 km on his retrofitted scooter. When he isn’t travelling solo he is accompanied by his team, the Eagle Specially Abled Riders.
Ameer, who lived in Jabalpur for most of his life, contracted polio at 18 months. His father worked for the government telecom company Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited. “Even loving parents hesitate to take their disabled children out in public because they fear that society will humiliate them,” says Ameer. His parents treated him no different from his four siblings and firmly believed that education would be especially valuable for him to live independently and earn a living.
Ameer did his MPhil in Computer Science from Jabalpur University, gained two Master’s degrees — in Computer Application and Business Administration — and is now pursuing his PhD in Computer Network as well as a Master’s in Social Work! But he doesn’t rest on his laurels. He wants to empower other persons with disabilities (PwD); not surprisingly, his main objective is to create awareness on the importance of education for PwD.
Ameer bought his retrofitted scooter when he moved from Jabalpur to Delhi for job prospects six years ago. Soon, he began his touring campaigns. To instil awareness on education for the disabled his team of 16 Eagle Riders travelled 3500 km in October 2019 from Delhi to Mumbai, covering 14 cities. The common strategy for their expeditions is to connect with disability organisations at each night halt. They organise audiences of PwD to whom Ameer speaks about empowerment and inclusion and answers questions on their rights.
In Delhi he has been helping PwD obtain disability certificates. During the pandemic, the Eagle Riders distributed food, groceries, money, masks, sanitisers, and medicines to PwD in need.
Ameer set a new record in December 2020 with his 3,000 km ride for a Rape-Free India; it was the longest solo ride by a PwD. He is planning his next solo expedition this year. He intends to cover 4500 km across Nepal and Bhutan campaigning for eye donation with the slogan: Netra daan Maha daan.