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Saturday, 5 April 2014

Persons with Disabilities: An Ignored Section of Electorates in India?

Amvallika Senapati, coordinator of the Disability Law Unit (northeast), Shishu Sarothi said "We can say from previous experience that disabled voters are often inconvenienced at polling booths. The polling officers should ensure that such voters are given priority and assistance. They should not be made to wait in long queues. We want the Election Commission's order to be implemented properly. The physically-challenged should exercise their constitutional rights without facing any obstructions," reports TOI.

"We are waiting for political parties to come out with their manifestos. This is not an issue of charity. They must be allowed to exercise their constitutional rights. There should be proper facilities for the visually impaired in terms of Braille on manual vote paper. Blind voters should be allowed to cast their vote with the help of a companion," added Arman Ali, executive director, Shishu Sarothi.

Despite all the heavy odds, some PwD voters still remained determined to exercise their voting rights. Virender Kalra, a bank manager and a resident of Subhash Nagar, was one of them. When he found there was no ramp for his wheelchair to climb on, he got two persons to lift him and take him inside the polling booth. “I was determined to vote and did so to play my role in ensuring a healthy democracy,” he said.

The right to participate in politics effectively by persons with disabilities requires legal development in many aspects but also needs a fundamental shift in everyone’s thinking and consider them as equal citizens deserving dignity, recognition of their ability and right to make their own decisions, and in some cases even decisions on behalf of the other citizens, they also should be given a chance to represent that.

Source : Silicon India News , 31st March 2014

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