More than 100 people with disabilities staged a one-day protest at BDO’s Kalchini office on Monday
About 100 people with disabilities under the banner of Joint Forum – an umbrella body of three organizations – staged a one-day protest at BDO’s Kalchini district office on Monday to demand various benefits from the administration and threatened with a unlimited hunger strike soon if their demands are not met.
Protesters with disabilities, including young people, alleged that they were deprived of educational and vocational opportunities as well as loans and prosthetic aids that would help them become self-sufficient. They also added that it was extremely difficult for them to get the disability certificate from the government, as it involves making multiple tours to different offices.
“We organized the protest to lobby for our 14 point charter of demands,” said Labh Kumar Hossain, one of the protesters. “There is no special school for disabled children in the Kalchini block and therefore they are deprived of education. This drastically reduces their employment opportunities. Also, when most certificates are issued online nowadays, a person with a disability has to tour government offices here and in Alipurduar to get their certificate, ”Hossain said.
In the morning, they gathered in the premises of the BDO office in one or two, carrying posters and placards. After a while, they started a sit-in protest.
The protest, they said, was supported by the Kalchini Disabled Welfare Society, the Dooars Divyang Kalyan Samiti and the Kalchini Khad Divyang Sangh.
Protesters also said that although the Disability Rights Act 2016 states that there should be a vocational training center for people with disabilities in every block, there is no such infrastructure. in and around Kalchini.
“There are different government sponsored programs for people like us. These include self-employment loans, the free distribution of prosthetic aids, and scholarships. But in this block, these patterns are not extended to us. Even in the event of government recruitment, we have no priority, ”said Amit Lohara, another protester.
During the protests, they also wanted the administration to ensure that there was no delay in issuing the disability certificate or disbursing loans for self-employment.
The protest forced Prashanta Burman, the Kalchini Block Development Officer, to release the information to Alipurduar District Magistrate, Surendra Kumar Meena.
“I have no authority to give them any assurance. That’s why I wrote to the district magistrate, mentioning their requests, ”Burman said.
Sources within the administration said there had been a proposal to reach out to these people during the ongoing Duare Sarkar or home government campaign launched by the state government.
“The idea is to help them get all the benefits they are entitled to from the government in the Duare Sarkar camps,” a source said.