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After week-long protests, Railways Ministry assures jobs for people with disabilities

After week long protests by hundreds of people with disabilities in Delhi, the Railways Ministry has assured to provide jobs under the disability quota. Officials have informed that once the ongoing hiring process is complete, people with disabilities who are qualified can fill the vacancies. This is indeed a great move but disability rights activists point out the many hurdles that members from the community have to cross in order to get their rights.

In spite of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 being introduced, disabled people still face a lot of discrimination, especially when it comes to being hired for jobs. On 23 October, hundreds of people with disabilities protested in New Delhi against this injustice, mainly in the railways department. Protesters demanded that jobs for people under the reserved categories in railway sector must be provided at the earliest without hassles. Soon, Railway ministry issued a statement saying that jobs for people under disabled category will not be filled by any one else.

The Railways had issued a centralised recruitment notification for over 63,000 people last year in the month of February. Apart from the quota mentioned in the RPWD Act, 2016, an additional window was also notified so that disabled candidates could apply.

As per the RPWD Act, 2016 reservations must be given for people with disabilities. According to reports, candidates who are qualified will be given posts according to their merit and qualifications in the respective railway zones. Ministry officials assured that the recruitment process is still going on. Hence, more appointments will happen in the next coming days.

Murli Dharan, General Secretary, National Platform for Rights of the Disabled (NPRD) says that the NPRD has already filed a petition with the Delhi High Court regarding the matter.

There are various anomalies that needs to be looked into and we have asked the railways to rectify it. The next hearing is on 5 November and we are hopeful that the order will be in favor of us. Railways have not yet responded to us.-Murli Dharan, General Secretary, National Platform for Rights of the Disabled

Protestors had pointed out that there are irregularities in filling up of posts reserved for people with disabilities in the recent Level-1 recruitment exercise. Reportedly, the 4% reservation for jobs still lies vacant. There are rising complaints that this post is often filled by people without disabilities which had made disability rights groups come out to the road to voice against this injustice.

Protestors met with senior railway officials who assured that speedy action will be taken and reservations will be filled at the earliest. "This is great to begin with. However, we question the very concept of identification of jobs provided under law. This is against the right to choice of employment and underestimates decision making capacity of an individual with disability. Second issue is the horizontal reservation. So this will have an impact on the most marginalized getting priority", says Meenakshi Balasubramanian, representing Equals Centre for Promotion of Social Justice (ECPSJ).

"It is indeed a great thing that this has been introduced. But RPWD Act, 2016 still has to be fully implemented across India in full force. Sadly, it has not been enforced yet due to which members from the community face many hurdles. Even the penal sections are yet to be implemented. A disabled person goes through many hardships and takes a lot of effort than a regular person to get into a government job. So I strongly condemn denying of those rights", says Jomy Joseph, a disability rights activist from Kerala.

Also Read: Disabled people push for need of accessible & disabled-friendly Indian Railways

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