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Sikkim to get its first Disability Law Unit

D.N.I.S. News Network A State-level Workshop on Disability and Law was held in Sikkim to sensitise disability organisations, activists and legal community to the rights of disabled people, during which a plan was mooted for the setting up of a Disability Law Unit at Spastics Society of Sikkim (S.S.S.).

Picture of Advocate General of Sikkim, S. P. Wangdi

The day-long Workshop was organised by the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (N.C.P.E.D.P.) in association with Disability Law Unit North East- Shishu Sarothi and S.S.S., Gangtok.

The Workshop began with a welcome speech by Dr. Bela Cintury, Director of Spastics Society of Sikkim. She called upon the legal fraternity to look at disability not as a charity issue but a subject of rights a concept that has evolved as a result of the Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995.

Advocate General of Sikkim, S. P. Wangdi, who was the Chief Guest at the Inaugural Session stressed on taking the issue of disability seriously by legal fraternity. He said that he is himself embarrassed that due to his avocation he has not really focused on this issue as a rights issue. He said, "Dignity of human being is the most important of all human rights". While focusing on international rules and UN Conventions, he stressed on the need to create systems for social and economic inclusion of disabled people in Sikkim, especially in the wake of the Disability Act, 1995.

Anju Talukdar of D.L.U.-N.E. gave an overview of the various Acts and stressed on the responsibility of administrators, judiciary and bureaucracy in the implementation of the Disability Act. Ambika, Joint Secretary, Department of Social Justice and Empowerment chaired this session. Shri Arman Ali, Project Co-ordinator DLU-NE focused on inter-sectoral collaboration and gave a picture of the Status of implementation of the Disability Act in the North-East States.

Sikkim, a State with a population of 5, 40,000 people out of which 3.8 per cent is the figure of persons with disabilities (20,520 approx.). Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has been running various schemes of giving allowances to the persons with disabilities. However, rights of the disabled were a vague concept for the people.

The Workshop saw an enthusiastic participation of the local lawyers who showed keen interest in taking up the issues in their personal capacities. While addressing the Workshop, Dr. Meenu Bhambhani Programme Officer, N.C.P.E.D.P. shared challenges and achievements at the central level and encouraged the stakeholders in the state to recognise the rights of the persons with disabilities in the region. She stressed on active participation of people with disabilities themselves in the implementation of the Act.

Dr. B.P. Dhakal, General Secretary, S.S.S. announced that the Disability Law Unit will come up in very near future. Also, Dr. Dhakal announced that a Composite Disability Management Institute would be set up in near future. The Workshop ended with an Action Plan, which S.S.S. committed to take up with the Government