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Hopes of millions of disabled people dashed! Lalu’s Orwellian budget fails to address demands

D.N.I.S. News Network- When Minister for Railways Lalu Prasad Yadav took stage in Lok Sabha on the morning of 24 February; a silent majority of 70 million disabled people was brimming with hope of welcoming Independent India’s first disabled-friendly Rail Budget. But in a matter of just over two hours their hopes were dashed.

 Railway Minister Lalu Prasad failed to address demands of disability sector despite meeting DRG delegation twice

The Railway Budget 2006-2007 has failed utterly and comprehensively to even take note of the demands highlighted by disabled people and their organisations, let alone meet them. The past two weeks before the budget, particularly the last 24-hours, have been nothing short of a rollercoaster ride for the disability sector.

A classic test of advocacy and determination by the Disabled Rights Group (D.RG.) saw their voices reach to the ears of the Minister.

The major demands of the sector ranging from implementation of three per cent reservation for disabled people to making the infrastructure and services accessible have gone unheeded. This despite not one, but two meetings between the Minister of Railways and the representatives of India’s disability sector.

It is important to note that both the meetings with Lalu Prasad Yadav - on 7 and 23 February - took place in the backdrop of a gritty protest right outside the official residence of the Minister at 25 Tuglak Road.

Especially on 23rd February - the eve of the Rail Budget - when D.R.G. Convener Javed Abidi led a delegation to the office of the Railway Minister, over two hundred activists stood guard waiting and hoping for positive news. Incidentally, the meeting did see the Minister hinting that there was indeed something for the sector to look forward to in the Railway Budget and this gave them confidence.

D.R.G. has issued a press release expressing deep anguish over this betrayal.