Colours of Dussehra turn dim for this wheelchair user in Delhi due to lack of accessible facilities
A trip to the local temple to enjoy the Dussehra festivities turned into a nightmare for Delhi resident Kajal Sharma who is a wheelchair-user.
39-year-old Sharma wanted to offer prayers at the Shri Radha Krishna Sanatan Dharma Temple in her neighbourhood of Pandav Nagar in East Delhi and later watch the effigy of Raavan burning at a nearby maidan, but neither venue was accessible.
Speaking to Newz Hook, Yashpal Goel, president of the temple committee promised to address her complaint. “After Diwali this year we will surely build a ramp.”
I could not enter the temple as there was no ramp. I had a similar experience at the maidan as well. Religious centres and open spaces are supposed to be accessible for everyone, but that s never the case. I sent an image of the temple entry area to the committee head and I got a very terse response. – Kajal Sharma – Disability rights advocate
A frustrated Sharma took to Twitter to highlight her experience, under the hashtag #MeTooIndia, rightly pointing out that this is no less an outrage or violation of rights than what is being witnessed at the Sabrimala temple in Kerala, where the ban on the entry of women is making news across India.
Her tweet “harassment is not just gender-based” has found resonated with many others.
What Sharma faces is not unique and is experienced by disabled people across most temples and gurdwaras, even well-known ones. Be it Tirupati temple or Odisha’s Jagannath, places of worship are largely inaccessible to people with disabilities.
“Sabrimala is topical and so is the #MeToo movement and gets highlighted, but what about us?” asks Sharma.
Well-known disability rights activist was among those to share his experiences at Amritsar’s famous Golden Temple. While visiting the iconic Sikh shrine early this year, Dr Singh had talked about the barriers he faced at different points, like steel barricades, the rugged flooring, lack of signages and the non-functioning stairlift.
He faced a similar experience the Dwarakadheesh temple in Mathura as well as he shared on Twitter – “I'm disabled & despite having divine parts as per our PM, couldn't enter Dwarkadheesh temple, Mathura.
As Sharma points out, accessibility to all places is mandated in the Constitution as well as in the RPWD Act 2016. Yet, it remains a fight at every level for India’s disabled population.
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