Massive protest in Delhi by disability rights groups seeking accessible rail travel

A major show of strength was witnessed in New Delhi on Tuesday, against the apathy shown by the Indian Railways towards the needs of disabled people.

Hundreds of disabled people from 12 states and 21 NGOs came together under the banner of National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled (NPRD).

They held protests outside Parliament to highlight the need for equal, accessible and affordable rail service for people with disabilities.

Protestors submit demands to government

The protestors sent a letter to Piyush Goyal, Union Minister of Railways, asking for concessions in local and passenger trains, Garib Rath and Suvidha trains.

Among their other demands are concessions under Tatkal bookings, uniform design for ramps, disabled-friendly toilets, markings to help blind people use stairs, Braille-embossed signages, and licenses to disabled people to sell items inside trains or on platforms.

Many leading disability rights activists were seen at the protest.

I have been raising the issue of disabled-unfriendly railways and strongly agree with all the demands of NPRD. ..It’s shocking that in 2018, none of the six A1 category railway stations in the Capital have lift-connecting platforms...Neither the promises made in the Union Budget in Railways nor the goals proposed under Accessible India Campaign have been achieved - Dr Satendra Singh, Associate Professor, University College of Medical Sciences, Delhi

Disability rights groups say they are determined to hold regular protests until they get equal rights for accessible travel.

We will raise our voice against the attitude of the central government towards the disabled community. Many disabled people are not even able to enter the railways. We want our equal rights. If we are not given that, we will protest - Jansi Rani, President, National Platform for The Rights of The Disabled

A group of protestors also met with Piyush Goyal later in the day. Mr Goyal has promised to look into the demands raised. He has said that he would give priority to those that can be addressed immediately.

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