Specially-abled end hunger strike after Govt assurances

Irfan Rashid

Srinagar:

It took state administration 84 hours to reach specially abled and help to end their hunger strike in Press Enclave Srinagar.
On Sunday evening, Sub-District Magistrate (SDM) Srinagar, Muhammad Haneef Balkhi, reached these 27 specially abled (handicapped) people and motivated them to end their strike.
On Monday afternoon, they had a meeting with District Commissioner (DC), Farooq Ahmad Lone where DC has assured them to send their case to ministry within two days
“We shall be meeting hopefully on 15th September with CM,” said Abdul Rashid, president of the Handicapped Association
 These handicapped people had begun their indefinite hunger strike on Thursday at morning 8 am to attract the attention of authorities towards their “long pending grievances”.
“We started our hunger strike at 8 am on Thursday, so that government may give their attention towards this negligent group,” said Abdul Rashid, president of the Handicapped Association.
These handicapped people spent their three nights in open.
“We had brought our blankets with us, and then erected a canopy over there so that in case of rain, we could remain dry to some extent and continue our indefinite strike,” said Rashid.
In course of 4 day hunger strike, few handicapped persons were taken to hospital also, after their health failed and were later injected some medicines.
The association has put series of demands before the Government which include setting up of an Advisory Board and appointment of full-time Disability Commissioner.
They termed disbursing of Rs 400 as monthly remuneration by the government as a “cruel joke” in this era of inflation where “one kg of meat is costs that money”.
They demanded strict application of laws by the government related to reservation in employment which says that 3% of vacancies in government employment shall be reserved for people with disabilities, 1% each for the persons suffering from: Blindness or Low Vision, Hearing Impairment, Locomotor Disabilities & Cerebral Palsy.
The person with disabilities act 1995 also adds, “Government Educational Institutes and other Educational Institutes receiving grant from Government shall reserve at least 3% seats for people with disabilities.”
“We demand 3 percent reservation in all District boards constituted by Government and private sector for various classes of people and health covers with special package as well as free medical aid in Government and private nursing homes,” said Abdul Samad Khan, who is handicapped from last 8 years “after army tortured him severely”.
The president of Handicapped Association, Abdul Rasheed, said the ruling coalition, like its predecessors, has also “ignored the plight” of physically challenged persons. “Due to government apathy, 5 lakh physically challenged persons are running from pillar to post in search of dignified life,” he said.
Rasheed said they had sought a meeting with Chief Minister and few other Cabinet Ministers but none of them responded. “Recently we met Governor NN Vohra and apprised him about our issues. Although he wrote to Chief Minister and MoS Social Welfare but no positive response came from their side,” he said.
Talking to Rising Kashmir, Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Dr Asgar Samoon said: “I had asked DC to call off their hunger strike. About reservation government has to take the decision, I will recommend.”
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