Kerala NGO bats for inclusion, demands five percent reservation for disabled people in elections
All Kerala Wheelchair Rights Federation (AKWRF) has written letters to Prime Minister and Kerala Chief Minister demanding five percent seats for disabled people to participate in elections in parliament, state legislative assemblies as well as local self-governing bodies. The organization is hoping that authorities and concerned officials will pay attention to their demand.
Even today, people with disabilities struggle hard to be included in most of the mainstream activities. In spite of strict laws like the RPWD Act, 2016 being introduced, inclusion in its true sense is still a distant dream. The All Kerala Wheelchair Rights Federation (AKWRF), a prominent organization in Kerala are gearing up to do their bit to include disabled people in elections. In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, members of AKWRF have demanded a reservation of five percent seats for disabled people in parliament, state legislative assemblies and local self-governing bodies.
Need for inclusion
According to the principles laid down in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities for empowerment of persons with disabilities as well as the Indian RPWD Act, 2016, seats must be reserved for people with disabilities in all elections. But in spite of strict laws, there are no political leaders with disabilities in India. Their demand to stand in elections are not paid attention to either.
Meanwhile, reservations made for SC/ST communities, women and other minority communities are followed strictly.
In the letter, AKWRF has stated, “If the disabled community is given the proposed reservation, smart disabled individuals will emerge as people’s representatives thereby enabling them to contribute effectively in the society and also aids in finding solutions for the long term problems and issues faced by the disabled. One of the main reasons that the disabled people in our country faces such big challenges in their lives is that the present elected representatives lack an awareness about the magnitude and depth of the problems faced by us. It is important to note here that the empowerment of the Dalit and Women greatly improved in our country after they got reservations in elections”.
Dr Lys Bin Mohamed, President, AKWRF says that participation of people with disabilities in government is inevitable for progress of a nation.
“There is already reservations meant for people with disabilities, but it is not being implemented in the true sense. Politicians are not willing to provide the reservation nor are disabled people willing to take it. There is a lot of discrimination as well”, he says.
Rajeev Palluruthy, Secretary of AKWRF says that they have not yet received a response for the letter from state or central governments. “We are hoping that our request gets attention so that reservation can be implemented in all elections beginning from this year onwards. We are not able to take the protests to the next level due to Coronavirus pandemic. But we are sure that our demand will be brought to the notice of officials”, he says.
The letter has also been forwarded to the National and Kerala Legal Service Society.
AKWRF recently sent two different letters with requests to Pinarayi Vijayan and state health minister KK Shailaja too. “Kerala government is gearing up to introduce ‘She Lodge’, which are safe accommodation facilities for women who are travelling alone. We want this to be made accessible and disabled friendly. We have also requested the government if disabled men can also use this facility”, says Mohamed.
In the second letter, AKWRF has requested for special wards to be started for persons with disabilities who are tested positive for Covid. “This is because a disabled person can never use a normal ward as it is never accessible. The government must ensure disabled people get best facilities during treatment”, adds Mohamed.
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