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Goa Governor’s comment about blind people raises hackles

October 16, 2018

An occasion to celebrate the achievements of India's blind cricketers turned sour. This was during the awards ceremony held at the blind cricket Triseries in Goa, when Goa Governor Mridula Sinha, who was the chief guest, said that, "blind people are a mistake committed by God."

Sinha went on to make even more insensitive statements. Calling it a miracle that blind people can play sports, she said others must correct blind people.

This has infuriated blind people and disability rights activists from across India, who have asked Governor Sinha to apologise.

C Govindakrishnan, Founder of NGO Nethrodaya in Chennai and a strong advocate on matters relating to disability rights.

We often hear comments like this. Recently, Dindigul Srinivasa who is a politician from Tamil Nadu mocked actor-turned-politician Vijayakanth for being speech impaired. This kind of attitude is just atrocious. People with disabilities live a dignified life and we have our own strengths and weaknesses, just like a person without a disability. What shocks me even more is that even the educated and elite group of people are unaware of disabilities. - C Govindakrishnan, Founder, Nethrodaya.

Last month, Union Minister Babu Supriyo was in the news for threatening to break the legs of a disabled man at a public function held to give away assistive aids. In comments that were widely circulated, Supriyo said, "I can break one of your legs and can give you a crutch."

In a more recent incident, many disabled people were beaten up brutally by the Assam Polcie at a public protest in Guwahati. In both instances, no action has been taken.

Such comments and actions are punishable under law. What makes matters worse is when politicians and lawmakers, who are supposed to show the way forward, perpetuate the abuse, through action and words.

As Saibaba Goud, Founder, Devnar Foundation for the Blind, puts it, "It is high time people stop seeing disabled people as weak or people who needs help. Whether you are rich or poor, disabled or not disabled, everyone has the right to be treated with respect without being discriminated."

ALSO READ: Outrage builds over Union Minister Babul Supriyo's shocking behaviour towards disabled person

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