Differently-abled persons stage protest on International Day of Persons with Disabilities in Guwahati
GUWAHATI: The International Day of Persons with Disabilities was observed across the globe on December 3 last.
However, the situation in Guwahati was more on the sombre side that day as differently-abled abled persons from across the state staged a protest at Dighalipukhuri over Assam government's failure to fulfil their various long-pending demands.
Several organisations under the banner of Pratibandhi Suraksha Sangstha Assam (PSSA) protested and chanted slogans against the unfulfilled promises of the government.
The organisation has been demanding Rs 1,000 as monthly allowance, which was announced by the state government last year.
In February last year, the state government had announced that around 5 lakh differently-abled people would benefit from the move. The officials had informed last year that registration for the beneficiaries had already begun. However, members of PSSA said that they are yet to receive the allowance.
Further, regarding jobs, the protestors have been demanding advertisement for 4,419 posts meant for persons with disabilities that are lying vacant. They informed that as per the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016, 4% reservation for persons with disabilities should be done.
“The state government was supposed to publish an advertisement for the vacant posts for persons with disabilities by September 30. The same was even given in writing by the social welfare minister but nothing has been done in this regard till now,” Nripen Malakar, secretary of PSSA told G Plus.
He added that they have a total of 21 long-pending demands. This apart, they have also asked for pension benefits and free housing facilities to be given to differently-abled people of the state.
International Day of People with Disability is sanctioned by United Nations which is celebrated internationally. It aims to increase public awareness as well as understanding and acceptance of people with disabilities.
The theme for International Day of People with Disability for 2018 was “Empowering persons with disabilities and ensuring inclusiveness and equality.”
Call for action against police brutality
Further, one of their major demands includes action against those police personnel who were involved in man-handling the differently-abled protestors in October last during a demonstration.
“On 5th October last, we were protesting at Dispur Last Gate against the government’s inaction over filling up the 4,419 vacant posts meant for persons with disabilities. However, the police assaulted us and lathi-charged at us while we were holding a sit-in demonstration,” informed members of PSSA.
Following this incident, the PSSA members lodged a case at the Assam State Human Rights Commission and also gave a written complaint to the director general of police (DGP), chief minister as well as the chief secretary.
“Even after such a shameful incident, the government still displayed a negligent attitude towards us and no action has been taken against anyone till now,” said Malakar.
He added that when there was a security lapse on the part of the police during Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi’s visit to Kamakhya Temple, some officials were promptly suspended.
“We have demanded strict action against additional deputy commissioner of police (ADCP) Amitabh Basumatary, sub-inspector of Dispur police station, Nipu Kalita among others, but nothing has been done as of yet,” said the protestors.
Ironically, in 2017 observing the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu launched Deen Dayal Divyang Sahajya Yojna in Assam for the benefit of Divyangjan.
They have now given an ultimatum to the state government till December 10, after which they said they will launch a massive state-wide protest if the authorities fail to take any initiative on their demands.
Education, awareness critical to empower people with disabilities: minister
Speaking during a seminar organised in the city as part of the celebrations of the International Day for Persons with Disabilities, state social welfare minister Pramila Rani Brahma said that higher education is critical for empowerment of people with disabilities.
The minister also stressed on creation of awareness among people. She also highlighted the need for the government to focus on implementation of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016.
Further, Jishnu Baruah, additional chief secretary, social welfare department, spoke about the recent initiatives undertaken by the department for creating barrier-free access, pension scheme and project reach out and respond. Admitting that a lot needs to be done in the sector, he said that the department was working on setting up a skill development training centre for people with disabilities and a central university on disability in the state.
Students with disabilities from Government BDS Deaf and Dumb School and Guwahati Blind High School, representatives from Hemophilia Society, Bikalanga Unnayan Parishad, All Assam Disabled Persons Association among others were present during the occasion.