Visually Impared in Himachal fasting unto death

Disheartening: Himachal’s visually impaired citizens forced to protest, Fast unto death for their rights, Still no one bothered

“The politicians talked about poor and handicapped in election rallies and in the Vidhan Sabha, but do little and we are the example.”

SHIMLA- For the past 154 days, about 250 visually impaired citizens of Himachal Pradesh are on chain hunger strike against government’s ignorance of their rights and alleged recruitment of ineligible candidates on seats reserved for them. Even in chilling winters, they sat in a rain-shelter near the Dayanand Public School in Shimla city. After 148 days of chain-hunger strike, when no one bothered about their protest, two of them sat initiated fast unto death. After six days the condition of two fasting protesters deteriorated and they were taken to IGMC Hospital, Shimla. The protesters, however, denied treatment saying they want to continue fasting until their voice is heard by government.

Himachal's visually impaired on hunger strike

But even the hospitalization of these protesters has bothered neither the State government, nor the public.

Before that, these people staged several protests including at some at the Secretariat. Then they had blocked Chotta Shimla-Sanjauli road and were dragged away by using police force.

The politicians talked about poor and handicapped in election rallies and in the Vidhan Sabha, but do little and we are the example,

they told an English daily in a statement.

Visually Impaired in Himachal Pradesh

Photo: Amar Ujala

Why These People are Protesting?

These visually impaired citizens are eligible for Class III and Class-IV jobs under one percent cadre quota. However, these candidates allege that the government has not filled the posts reserved for them. It’s also a violation of the Supreme Court order passed on October 8, 2013 as per which one percent of jobs are reserved for visually impaired people.

When these candidates asked the corporations and government departments, they were told that all reserved seats are filled. However, these 250 candidates speak of a different story. If the quota seats are exhausted and lone 250 genuine candidates in the State are still unemployed, then what to make of it? The genuine candidates allege that non-genuine people have been given these jobs.

What Is Their Demand?

The protesting candidates further said that the number of post reserved is about 2,000.

As per the cadre strength of 1 per cent quota for the blind, we should get about 2,000 posts. We are not asking for filling these posts, but are seeking justice for the 250 genuine persons eligible for the Class-III and IV posts,

said Ratan Chand, its president in statement to the Tribune.

What about “The Rights of Persons with Disability Act, 2016”?

It appears that the State government does not agree with “The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill-2016” that the Indian Parliament recently passed with commitment to improve quality of life for disabled in India. The Bill replaced the 21-years-old PwD Act, 1995. The government claimed defining disability based on an evolving and dynamic concept. In the list of types of defined disability, 14 type of different disabilities identified and added to existing seven. Now, there are 21 types of disabilities defined by the current bill. Blindness and low-vision are on the top of this classification.

The bill separately and very clearly defines that:

Additional benefits such as reservation in higher education, government jobs, reservation in allocation of land, poverty alleviation schemes etc. have been provided for persons with benchmark disabilities and those with high support needs.

The Bill has also assured improvement of infrastructure for the visually-impaired to build a better society. Moreover, its implementation would mean positively impacting the younger generation, who’ll grow up as sensitive, humane and contributing individuals. You can read about it in detail here.

Unfortunately, no individual, group, activist or any public welfare association in Himachal came to support them. In a democracy, the State of Himachal Pradesh has failed to provide promised employment to just 250 visually impaired, but eligible citizens. It’s disheartening and alarming sign that along with politicians, the society has, too, cultivated an insensitive environment.

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