MANASH PRATIM DUTTA
GUWAHATI, Dec 2 - Even as International Day of Persons with Disabilities will be observed on Tuesday across the world on the theme ‘Promoting the participation of persons with disabilities and their leadership’, activists working for the rights of differently-abled persons of Assam look for support from all sections of society to their various demands.
Talking to The Assam Tribune, activist Nripen Malakar said, “For a long time differently-abled persons of Assam have been struggling for their rights. But till today we have not got any support or assistance from any civil society organisation. No one came forward in our support even when police brutally beat up a number of persons with disabilities during a protest demonstration at Dispur last year.”
Ironically, most of the demands for which the protest was held at Last Gate, Dispur while a session of the Assam Legislative Assembly was under way, remain unfulfilled. The prime demand of that protest was to fill up the posts reserved for differently-abled persons lying vacant in different State government departments.
Though the State government has taken some steps to start a recruitment drive against these posts, every day the eligible candidates have been facing various problems in getting a government job.
“Society remembers us only on International Day of Persons with Disabilities. But at other times no one spends a minute for us. At every step we have been struggling for our rights. We don’t need sympathy from anyone, but wish to live with dignity,” Malakar added.
Another activist Niranjan Kalita said, “The differently-abled community of Assam still remains deprived of proper facilities from the government. We are even deprived of proper health facilities. Many differently-abled people residing in remote areas still have no certificates as differently-abled due to various loopholes of government agencies.”
According to Malakar and Kalita, in Assam the population of differently-abled persons is more than ten lakh and out of them around 70 per cent are male and around 30 per cent are female.
According to the United Nations, this year, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities focuses on the empowerment of persons with disabilities for inclusive, equitable and sustainable development as anticipated in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which pledges to ‘leave no one behind’ and recognises disability as a cross-cutting issue that is to be considered in the implementation of its 17 Sustainable Development Goals.