Volume 3 Issue 17 - September 01, 2005

Hundreds of people with visual impairment court arrest in Delhi over their demands

D.N.I.S. News Service - Over 400 people with visual impairment courted arrest on the Parliament Street while demonstrating in support of a charter of demand and for insisting on meeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to raise their issues.

The impressive demonstration was held on 17 August under the aegis of the All India Confederation of the Blind (A.I.C.B.) and National Federation of the Blind (N.F.B.).

The two organisations have been demanding certain amendments to the Persons with Disabilities Act 1995, review of the education policy to include people with disabilities therein, and replacement of the incumbent Director of the National Institute for Visually Handicapped at Dehradun with a Director with visual impairment, among other demands.

On the issue of amendments to the Persons with Disabilities Act 1995, the charter read: “The issue regarding amendments to the Persons with Disabilities Act, has indeed, been under the Government’s consideration for a very long time—more than six years. Surely, that is more than sufficient time-span to consider and finalise Ministry’s stand on this vital matter. Could we at least now expect the Amendments to be brought before the Parliament in its coming winter session?"

It further added: “Also, we suggest that the Ministry may, please, start forthwith and conclude consultations with Disabled Peoples’ Organisations in particular with regard to the new issues, which you state, have come up during these past six years. Amendments now need to be finalised and Parliament’s approval obtained after due consultation with organisations of persons with disabilities, like ours, within a specified times span. The matter has been hanging in suspense for long, too long.”

On the issue of employment: “As representatives of thousands and thousands of blind persons in the country were trying to find out from the Ministry the position regarding the one percent reservation of posts for blind and low vision persons as stipulated under Section-33 of the Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995.”

Coming in the backdrop of the introduction of the Rural Employment Guarantee Bill, the charter said: “We, however, fervently hope that the concern would be translated into concrete action at the right time and not get inordinately delayed as has happened in the case of the Rural Employment Guarantee Legislation.”

The nine-point charter also included the demand for implementation of three per cent reservation in Government jobs for the disabled, including one per cent for the visually challenged, and extension of reservation in private sector.

A delegation of the A.I.C.B. and N.F.B. was later allowed to meet Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Meira Kumar to whom the protesters submitted a memorandum and charter of demands.

The Minister reportedly assured that their demands would be “looked into seriously”, a release issued by A.I.C.B.and N.C.B. said. It also said the delegation was later called by officials from the Prime Minister’s Office to discuss their demands. They were assured that a meeting with the Prime Minister would be fixed soon, the release said.

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