LAHORE - Dozens of visually impaired persons from various cities of Punjab on Monday staged a sit-in in front of the Lahore Press Club, calling for implementation of three percent quota in government jobs for them.
These special people took to the street once again after a series of sit-ins and protests in the past – December 3, 2016; March 2, 2015; April 13, 2015; June 8, 2015; January 11, 2016 and August 1, 2016. They chanted slogans against the Punjab government and asked the authorities concerned to look into the matter. They alleged that the Punjab Social Welfare Department had asked the police to harass the protesters.
Muhammad Asif (25), a resident of Attock District, said, “The Punjab government misled us on implementation of three percent quota for blind people . It should be implemented in letter and spirit. Protesters demand that vision-impaired daily wagers should be allotted permanent seats.”
Ayesha Usman said she could not get a job despite having the required qualification only because she had impaired vision . 'I need a job and the government should have mercy on us,” Ayesha said. “We have been waiting for this day for months, as December 3 is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities,” she said. Only 0.48 percent of the disabled persons are registered in Pakistan, according to the 6th Population and Housing Census 2017.
Shoaib Hussain (21), a resident of Rawalpindi, told The Nation it was illogical that an educated blind person could not be an educator at a government institution. 'If our people are getting education, the government must lift ban on blind people’s appointment as educators,' Shoiab said.
Hafiz Yasir said the Punjab government misled them on issuance of Khidmat Cards to 88,000 blind people . According to the government scheme, blind persons will get Rs1,200 per month. Yasir asked the authorities concerned, 'I can’t see because I have got no eyes, but can’t they see? How can you run your house with Rs40 per day? We demand this money be increased up to Rs25,000. Is this Islamic Republic of Pakistan?” he asked. Protesters claimed that Special Branch of the Punjab Police disrupted their stay at Royal Hotel near the Lahore Railway Station on Sunday night. As a result, they said, they went to Lahore Press Club at around 11pm and stayed on the road under the open sky in the prevailing harsh weather.
Sarfaraz Ahmed, who hails from Faisalabad, said that governments in the entire world tend to provide facilities to their citizens, but in Pakistan “we have been deprived of our fundamental rights”. He said there must be equal opportunities for persons with disabilities. As news about the sit-in by the visually impaired people spread, members of an organisation representing the disabled people came forward and joined the protest. The organisation vowed to continue the struggle for the rights of the vision-impaired people .
Muhammad Fayyaz, a protester, said blind people were contributing to development of Pakistan and there was a lot of potential among them. “Visually impaired people are securing top government posts. Faisal Majeed from Jhang became the first visually impaired person to join the District Management Group (DMG) after passing the Central Superior Service (CSS) examination.
“It seems the struggle is not over yet, as Faisal was not allowed to join the DMG group after he cleared the CSS exam. He moved the court and won his right to be part of the DMG,” Fayyaz said.
The sit-in was intact when this report was filed on Monday evening.