“Feel our suffering” Valley’s disability class express on World Disability Day

Bilal Handoo

SRINAGAR

Girls with hearing disability during protest in Srinagar on Tuesday: Photo: Bilal Bahadur
Girls with hearing disability during protest in Srinagar on Tuesday: Photo: Bilal Bahadur

On World Disability Day, a young Shazia from Srinagar joined other disabled persons of different parts of the valley and protested in unison against “State’s apathy” towards the “underprivileged class” of the society on Tuesday.

Born with hearing disability, Shazia and her friends came to Srinagar’s Press Enclave to seek justice against “their suffering”. Without uttering a word, the young girls held postcards in their hands: “We are disable but please separate us from handicapped. We need our separate rights.”

Some boys apparently with speaking disability had also come to seek justice from state authorities for the dignity of life. “Allow us to perform for the betterment of the society,” read another postcard held high by one of the young boys.

Among the protestors was the bunch of special students dressed in multi-coloured uniforms. Without raising any voice, they also let their postcards plead for them:  “We don’t listen/talk. But you can feel our suffering.”

Though 2011 census of J&K is silent over the number of disabled persons in the state, 2001 census puts a figure at 302,670 (272,816 males and 130,853 females) of total disabled persons in the state. But activists estimate that there are around nine lakh people suffering from one or the other form of disability in the state. Five major types of disabilities have been found in the State include seeing, speech, hearing, movement and mental.

Pertinently, the percentage of disabled population in J&K is higher in comparison to northern states of Punjab (1.74 %) and Himachal Pradesh (2.56 %) and Union Territory of Chandigarh (1.72 %).

Police taking a disabled man under custody. Photo By: Bilal Bahadur
Police taking a disabled man under custody. Photo By: Bilal Bahadur

Demand for separate schools, financial assistance and state’s support for the betterment of their condition were some immediate demands of disabled class.

Meanwhile, police bundled many protesters with movement disability into police van and whisked them away from the spot.

“For God’s sake, understand our sufferings,” read a postcard held high by Shazia.

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