Disabled people reclaim the republic & idea of India on 70th Republic Day
Across many cities in India, there were gatherings of various disability rights groups and disabled people on the occasion of India’s 70th Republic Day. Groups read out the Preamble to the Indian Constitution and pledges were taken to reject the Citizenship Amendment Act.
Powerful, moving images of disabled people and organisations representing their rights dominated the images of India’s 70th Republic Day.
Across various Indian cities, disability rights organisations and activists gathered to read the Preamble to the Constitution and reaffirmed their faith in the secular, democratic principles upon which India is founded.
Disabled people promise to uphold the Constitution
In Tamil Nadu, over 300 people from different organisations gathered at the stroke of midnight on 25 January outside the Madras High Court. Similar gatherings were seen at 48 centres at Erode and Villupuram districts and other centres in Tamil Nadu. A Tamil version of Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s poem Hum Kagaz Nahi Dikhayenge was also sung.
This is the first time something like this has taken place in this state. We also had people with psychosocial disabilities coming to the protest. The aim was to take an oath swearing allegiance to the Constitution and to voice the difficulties faced by disabled people. One is our concern that under the Citizenship Amendment Act and NRC/NPR, the fundamental right to quality is being compromised. This means that the rights of disabled people will take a backseat. The other is the issues specific to the disabled community, many of whom don’t have papers and other documents required under the exercise. – TMN Deepak, Founder, 3 December Movement
Across 15 district headquarters of Telangana, the Preamble was read out before statues of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar. In Kerala, disabled people participated in large numbers in a 620-km long human chain from Kasargode to Thiruvananthapuram.
In West Bengal capital Kolkata, a reading was held at the Ballygunje bus station from 3 to 5 pm. In Haryana too, disabled people joined other citizens in Rohtak and other centres.
Disabled join anti-CAA protests at Shaheen Bagh
In Delhi, disabled people joined protestors at Shaheen Bagh and other centres in reading out the Preamble. This has been the site of protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act that has been brought into force by the Centre.
At various sites, versions of Hum Kagaz Nahi Dikhayen, which has become the rallying cry for protestors across India, was sung.
The National Platform of the Rights of the Disabled had earlier issued a statement vowing to oppose the new Act on the grounds that it was violative of the Constitution and exclusionary.
“We are apprehensive about the questions related to parents’ date and place of birth that have been added to the NPR”, said the statement which was issued by over 45 different disability rights organisations and activists from across India. “Many of us, disabled, who for a variety of reasons have been abandoned, dislodged from our homes, homeless, stay in segregated colonies, or are permanently housed in institutions would not be able to provide many of the details asked for in the questionnaire, apart from backing it with valid proofs”.
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