Anger over Minority Affairs Ministry for discriminating against the disabled

Disability rights activists have slammed the Ministry of Minority Affairs for discriminating against the disabled in the Haj guidelines.

Ministry guidelines refer to people with disabilities as lunatic, crippled

They say that the government department not only discriminates by making them ineligible for Haj, but also refers to them as 'crippled' and 'lunatic.' The ministry’s guidelines state that 'persons whose legs are amputated, who are crippled, handicapped, lunatic or otherwise physically/ mentally incapacitated' cannot apply for Haj.

In a letter to the Minister of Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, disability rights activists have said the guidelines discriminate against the disabled and are also against the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act (RPWDA), 2016.

Matter likely to be raised in Parliament session

They also say that Saudi Arabia does not ban people with disabilities from undertaking the Haj and has in fact made the pilgrimage more accessible. They also say that terms like 'lunatic' and 'crippled' are abusive in nature.

The letter has asked the ministry to remove these discriminatory references and activists hope to raise the matter in Parliament during the ongoing winter session.

The matter was brought into focus when a social worker from Delhi, Faisal Nawaz, sought to apply for the Haj. Nawaz is often dependent on a wheelchair and oxygen cylinder due to scoliosis, which is an abnormal curvature of the spine that also causes contracture of the rib cage area, and polio. He realised that the rules do not allow people with disabilities from applying to the Haj committee of India, which covers half of the expenses.

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