Scores of specially-abled persons Thursday staged a protest demonstration at Press Enclave here, demanding benefits of various government schemes meant for them.
The group from district Kupwara alleged that their files were gathering dust in the offices of authorities concerned who have not paid them their due “as is guaranteed under various government schemes” since three months.
The protestors assembled under the banner of District Handicapped and Old Age Association Kupwara and raised slogans demanding justice.
GhulamRasool, a specially-abled protestor said that he and many others like him have been running from pillar to post to get the benefits promised in government schemes for them.
“In 2017, we were promised machines and other relevant equipment that would help us in various ways in our day-to-day life. We were also promised monthly financial help but nothing was done,” said Rasool who has difficulty walking with a damaged leg.
Saifudin, another specially-abled protestor said employees at district welfare office Kupwara were neither ready to listen to their grievances nor do they tell them anything about the status of their applications seeking benefits the schemes envisage for them.
Commissioner for persons with disabilities in the J&K government, Iqbal Lone, said the State was the only one across India where 50% of 3.6 lakh known persons with disabilities were provided benefits under various schemes.
However, the protesting specially-abled persons had a different story to tell.
“Some of the employees humiliate us and ask us to not visit the office again. We appeal the authorities to issue their transfer orders as they have been there for past few decades,” said Saifudin who gave only one name.
“The protests should visit me in my office and I will ensure their issues are resolved according to rules,” Lone told Greater Kashmir.
Abdur Rahim, who also cannot walk properly because of a damaged ankle said that authorities “are duty bound” to extend the benefits of various schemes to specially-abled persons. The Constitution of India provides for equality, freedom, justice and dignity for all individuals and implicitly mandates an inclusive society.
“The constitution lays responsibility of empowerment of disabled persons on governments. Government has launched various schemes but the authorities are not able to implement it in Kupwara,” Rahim alleged.
In 2017, state government approved Jammu and Kashmir Rights of Persons with Disabilities Ordinance, 2017 that increased the number of disabilities from 7 to 21 for various governmental benefits and reservation in educational seats and jobs.
In December 2018, the Jammu and Kashmir government announced a scholarship scheme for the state’s specially-abled students.
According to this scheme, meritorious students with disabilities are supposed to receive a financial assistance of Rs 1 lakh each year.