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Disabled people boycott Tamil Nadu Consultation; deliberations hijacked by parents and professionals

D.N.I.S. News Network, India: The Tamil Nadu State Consultation on the Working Draft of the proposed new disability law on March 8 and 9 in Chennai made a mockery of the letter and spirit of U.N.C.R.P.D. Hundreds of disabled people who were protesting against the organisers’ callous attitude that left out grassroot activists, were barred from the Consultation while carers and professionals ‘consulted’ on the draft of a legislation that would affect the lives of people with disabilities! Incidentally, Chairperson National Trust and a Member of the Committee, Poonam Natarajan, who was there in Chennai for the Consultation, remained a mute spectator.

The protestors led by Disability Rights Alliance (D.R.A.) were demanding that the Consultation be postponed as the organisers, the Spastic Society of Tamil Nadu (S.P.A.S.T.N.) and the State Disability Commissioner’s office, refused to arrange for travel and accommodation of grassroot disabled activists. Genuine stakeholders from rural Tamil Nadu were therefore kept away. D.R.A. also demanded that the substantive issues such as one comprehensive disability law with all the rights of all people with disabilities be settled first.

The organisers refused to listen to the genuine demands of the protestors. However, the Consultation did get delayed by over 2 hours due to this vociferous protest.

By lunch time, the protest became so loud that the Central Leather Research Institute asked the organisers to move out from their complex because the other activities going on within the same premises were getting disturbed. The Consultation was then moved by S.P.A.S.T.N. to their own premises on the outskirts of Chennai. However, the protestors reached there as well and continued to shout slogans. The nervous organisers closed the gates of S.P.A.S.T.N. and placed guards to physically prevent any disabled activist from coming in. The drama continued the whole day. While the deliberations were hijacked by parents and professionals inside the compound, the genuine stakeholders – prominent disabled activists from all over Tamil Nadu were kept outside the locked gates.

So much for the Minister’s desire and his firm directive to the Committee and the National Trust to ensure that “no one should be left behind to say that she/he had an opinion but was not heard”.