DNIS News Network - Finally, it is victory for the disability sector, as the four disabled employees dismissed by GAIL have been given jobs in Indraprastha Gas Limited (I.G.L.).
The crisis that G.A.I.L. had set off in the first instance by rashly dismissing four of its disabled employees, and then refusing to budge from its illogical and unreasonable stand, despite efforts from various quarters, was finally resolved by the intervention of Mani Shankar Aiyar, Petroleum Minister, on 6 May. D.N.I.S. now reflects on the circumstances that led to the crisis and events that brought the matter to its logical conclusion.
On 30 January 2004, G.A.I.L. suddenly terminated the services of four of its disabled employees -- Rajpal, Rajiv Kumar, and Pushpa Kumari (who are visually disabled); and Anju Thapliyal, who has hearing impairment, without any reasons or explanation. The matter came to the notice of N.C.P.E.D.P. in July 2004, and it decided to intervene immediately. After a lot of campaigning, a meeting was called by the officials of the Petroleum Ministry in October 2004. Officials of G.A.I.L., the disabled employees, and Javed Abidi, Executive Director, N.C.P.E.D.P., were present at the meeting. After a detailed enquiry, the Ministry admonished G.A.I.L. for the “apparent lack of sensitivity” and advised the creation of supernumerary positions for the concerned disabled people. Even the Ministry’s intervention did not produce results. (See news 'G.A.I.L. dismisses disabled employees', April 01, 2005.)
As a last ditch effort, D.R.G. Convenor Javed Abidi announced that he would go on a fast unto death from 5 May, 2005, if the four disabled employees were not reinstated. He also sent a letter to this effect to G.A.I.L. On 4 May, activists from the disability sector, under the banner of Disabled Rights Group (D.R.G.), held a dharna outside the G.A.I.L. Headquarters. But that did not yield any positive result. So, on 5 May, Abidi began a fast-unto-death at Jantar Mantar. The Convenor wrote to Prashanto Banerjee, C.M.D., G.A.I.L., expressing surprise at an offer from A.K. Dey, Managing Director, Indraprastha Gas Limited (I.G.L.), stating that I.G.L. was willing to employ the four people sacked by G.A.I.L. But the disabled people turned down the offer.
The D.R.G. undertook a Solidarity Rally on 6 May, in support of an ongoing fast unto death by Abidi. The rally that started at 11.30 a.m. from Jantar Mantar was headed for Parliament House. A large number of disabled people blocked the traffic on Parliament Street and staged a sit-in for over an hour in the sweltering heat. They were arrested by the Rapid Action Force, and later released. The same evening, Petroleum Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar called a meeting in his office, where he personally met with the four disabled people and Javed Abidi. The Minister asked the disabled people to take up employment in Indraprastha Gas Limited (I.G.L.) assuring them that they will start on the same scale at which they had been dismissed from G.A.I.L., and that the job at I.G.L. would also be permanent in nature. Fully convinced, the four disabled people accepted the offer.
When the delegation returned from the Ministry to the Dharna Sthal at Jantar Mantar, the mood was pensive (over the hard-headedness of the G.A.I.L. C.M.D.) and also celebratory (over the humaneness and compassion shown by the Minister). Those present at Dharna Sthal were overjoyed by the news, and joined Abidi in breaking his fast over a glass of orange juice.