People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)

Heed Our Voice

Massive Dharna by Disabled at Hyderabad



CENTERING around the demand for a sub-plan for the disabled and enhancement of the pension amount, a huge gathering of disabled persons took place at Hyderabad on March 16, 2011. They had assembled in response to a call given by the Andhra Pradesh unit of the National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled, coinciding with the budget session of the Andhra Pradesh legislative assembly.


Among the other demands were three per cent budgetary allocation for the disabled, provision of a universally valid identity card to all disabled persons, issuing of Antyodaya cards to all the disabled, provision of houses for the disabled etc.


The unprecedented response that the dharna received gives an inkling of the shape that the movement of disabled persons for justice and right to a dignified life is going to take in the near future. The turnout at Hyderabad’s Indira Park in response to the call given by the Andhra Pradesh unit of the National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled, was massive. While the organisers had targeted a mobilisation of 1500, more than 2500 disabled persons participated in the dharna. Though they were mainly drawn from the three adjoining districts of Hyderabad, people with disabilities from nineteen of the total 24 districts of the state participated. Notable was the presence of a large contingent of women with disabilities.


The participants were undaunted by the high temperature and the multitude of obstacles that they had to encounter and cross to make it from the remote corners of the state. Surged by enthusiasm, the thousands that gathered there raised slogans and gave vent to their anger against an insensitive and callous administration that refuses to recognise their problems. The huge turnout has enthused the participants to intensify their agitation further if the government fails to heed to their warning and concede their demands.


There were people on wheel chairs, there were persons who crawled on their four limbs, there were others who took the aid of their crutches, persons with hearing and speech disabilities, persons with visual disabilities, people with stunted physical growth, representatives of persons with intellectual disabilities and their caregivers, all were present determined and unflinching in their resolve.


Earlier, a delegation led by V Venkateswarlu, president and T Rajendran secretary of the Andhra Pradesh unit of the NPRD, submitted a memorandum outlining the demands to Sunitha Laxma Reddy, Minister for Women, Child Welfare and Disability Affairs.


B V Raghavulu, CPI(M) Polit Bureau member and secretary of the Andhra Pradesh state committee came to the venue and pledged his Party’s support to the demands being raised by the disabled community. Pointing out various anomalies in the implementation of various programmes and schemes for the disabled, he also expressed serious concern that many of the institutions established for catering to the disabled had turned into dens of corruption. He also demanded that representatives of the disabled should be nominated to local bodies. Julakanti Ranga Reddy, CPI(M) MLA, informed the gathering that he had given a notice in the assembly for a discussion on the issues concerning the disabled. MLC Chukka Ramaiah who spoke on the occasion told that these governments would heed to only the sections of the people who resort to the route of the agitations. S Veeraiah, CITU, AP state president expressed solidarity of the working class with the movement of the disabled.


Muralidharan of the NPRD pointed out that there is nothing unique about the demand being made by the NPRD. While the Tenth Plan had recommended a component plan for the disabled in all ministries, the Eleventh Plan had   suggested the creation of a separate department  for disability affairs. It was the failure of the governments to concede these that had led to our raising these demands, he emphasised.


The president of the AP unit of the NPRD, V Venkateswarlu, who returned along with the delegation after meeting the minister, informed that he had been assured that the minister will facilitate a meeting with the chief minister, in the first week of April for discussing the issues raised in the memorandum. Among others who spoke at the dharna were G Ramulu, honorary president of AP unit of the NPRD, General Secretary Rajender vice-president M Chukkaiah etc.