Specially-Abled Persons Protest Against Social Welfare Dept

Allege GAD’s Order Bars 9 Categories From Applying For Class IV Jobs

SRINAGAR: Dozens of specially-abled persons staged a protest here on Wednesday against the Social Welfare department over its alleged ‘discriminatory’ order barring many of them from applying in the recently advertised posts by the Jammu and Kashmir Services Selection Board (JKSSB).

According to reports, dozens of persons with disabilities, including women under the banner of J&K Handicapped Association converged at Press Colony here and lodged a strong anti-government protest. The protesters accused the Social Welfare department and General Administrative (GAD) for upholding the order No.59 that bars nine of the 21 categories of disabled persons from applying Class IV jobs advertised recently by the SSB.

They also raised alarm against the government for ceasing the benefits of Indian Rights of Person with Disabilities Act 2016.

“The government has no clear policy for the education, employment and accessibility for persons with disabilities in Jammu and Kashmir” state President J&K Handicapped Association, Abdul Rashid Bhat told Kashmir Observer.

“On one hand the government calls us specially-abled and on the other they declare us handicapped by refusing our basic rights as to job,” he added.

The whole issue augmented when more than a thousand persons with various disabilities recently applied for the Class IV posts and were subsequently “denied the right to apply”.

As per the Disabilities Act of 2016, there are 21 categories of disabled persons and out of these 21, the State Welfare department has only clarified nine categories as persons with disabilities.

“If there are 21 categories that the government has officially declared as disabled, then why are only nine being termed as disabled.” Bhat said.

“That means, the 12 left out categories are neither normal nor are they considered disabled. The Social welfare department is our nodal committee and our job assurances are dependent on them but the department itself is creating hurdles for us,” he added.

The protesters have also alleged that this “brutal move” by the authorities have once again raised the issue of how specially-abled persons have been denied employment opportunities within the government sector in the erstwhile state.

“When the disabled persons raised this issue, the State Welfare department constituted an expert bench and made an amendment in the basic application criteria but that too was a faulty one. Not a single specially-abled person was part of the expert committee, so, how can they amend the criteria for persons with disabilities while barring them from being part of an expert committee.” Bhat lamented.

He further added, “That government should revoke those nine categories also or they should add the 12 disregarded categories in order to provide justice to the persons with disabilities.”

The protesters demanded an immediate implementation of Disabilities Acts 2016 with all of its applicable Rules as soon as possible in Jammu and Kashmir.

“If the Social Welfare department fails to revoke order No 59, then the disabled persons will call for a hunger strike till death,” a female protestor told Kashmir Observer.

“The government keeps on calling us to educate ourselves but for what we should educate ourselves. The government is denying us our basic rights, so why should we educate ourselves?” she asked.

She further added, “If the administration can’t provide us our rights, then it’s better for them to kill us all. Almost all the persons with disabilities who had applied for this job have gathered here today, please kill us all.”

It is pertinent to mention here that as per the Disabilities Act 2016, the government is entitled to provide low interest loans for persons with disabilities as well as it should be covered in subsides, MGNREGA and all such types of works should be available for disabled persons also with 4 per cent reservation and 4 percent promotion policy.

“There should have been a proper special recruitment drive for qualified disabled persons and vertical reservation for persons with disabilities rather than horizontal in all Government jobs.” Bhat said, adding “But, it looks like the government doesn’t count us among humans.”

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Zaid Bin Shabir

Zaid Bin Shabir is a special correspondent at Kashmir Observer. He tweets @Zaidbinshabir

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