Srinagar: The state of Jammu and Kashmir has limited avenues for physically challenged people. The people facing physical challenges have been deprived of basic rights which include reservation in jobs and providing a disabled friendly environment at work as well as other public places.
Recently, the Union government took a positive step by enhancing the quota of reservation in government vacancies for the people with benchmark disabilities in Group A, B and C from 3 per cent to 4 per cent. The government issued instructions to all the Ministries to enforce the new rules for recruitment in Central Government services.
The one per cent increase will not include the Scheduled Caste for whom separate quota has already been set apart in Government services. The new law also ensures that this reservation includes acid victims as well, who were till now not eligible for any reservations, especially in government sector.
The benchmark stipulates that a person with not less than forty per cent of specified disability falls within the benchmark category. The instructions have been issued by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) to all Central Government departments to ensure that one per cent of each posts be reserved for people with blindness and low vision; deaf and hard of hearing; locomotor disability including cerebral palsy, leprosy cured, dwarfism, acid attack victims and muscular dystrophy.
However, the people who are affected by various physical challenges in our state have been facing apathy at all levels. The government has been unmindful of their genuine demands and requirements.
Even the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill 2016, which replaces the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995, and passed by the Parliament in December 2016 has not been able to get them the required succor and relief as the bill is yet to be passed by the state legislature.
The people with disabilities had sought immediately extension of the disability law, passed by Parliament as they believed that it would make an impact at the ground level and force the state to implement some reforms for the community.
As per norms, no Act of Parliament gets automatically implemented in Jammu and Kashmir until the state Assembly ratifies it on the floor of the House. The 3% reservation in government jobs and other facilities the act offers to the people facing from various physical challenges can provide bedrock for establishing a system that will in the long run benefit the community.
Keeping in view the population in Jammu and Kashmir, the corresponding number of people with benchmark disability is very large. The factors responsible are many but the government has failed to provide them their due share.
It is an irony that the public at large too has been acting irresponsibly on this crucial issue. The public places which are managed and run by various public organizations too have been ignored to provide access to the people with physical disability. Even religious institutions like mosques, shrines and temples do not offer facilities for these people in our state. This needs serious though from our side as well.