LAHORE - Muhammad Usman (26), a resident of Pakpattan, has M.Phil degree in Islamic Studies from the University of Punjab. He applied for a grade-9 educator job and passed the National Testing Service (NTS) exam keeping in view requirements of the Punjab School Education Department. Later, he was called for the job interview.

“As soon as the interviewers came to know that I am visually impaired, they simply refused to interview me and said they do not have a policy on induction of visually-impaired people into the department. All my hopes were shattered when I heard this,” Usman said.

“We mentioned in our application forms we are visually impaired. There must be someone at the NTS and the department who scrutinises these application forms? They wasted our money and time and hurt our emotions,” Usman told The Nation at a sit-in being staged outside GOR-1 by visually-impaired people for implementation of three percent quota for blind people in government jobs.

Dozens of visually-impaired people are taking part in the sit-in, which continued for third consecutive day on Wednesday.

Usman appealed to the chief justice of the Supreme Court to take suo motu notice of the situation.

Visually-impaired people took to streets after a series of sit-ins and protests in the past.

Jamaat-e-Islami, Pakistan Awami Tehreek and some individuals from the legal fraternity are supplying food to protesters, according to the sources.

On Wednesday, protesters chanted slogans against the Punjab government and asked the authorities concerned to look into the matter. They said the Punjab Social Welfare Department was doing nothing to solve their problems.

Adnan Mehmood from Gujrawala told The Nation that the Education Department had advertised vacancies on December 28, 2017 through the National Testing Service. “I applied for the job and I was shortlisted for interview for senior school educator and junior school educator. Later, they informed me that they have no such policy to accommodate visually-impaired persons,” he said.

The sit-in was continuing when this report was filed late on Thursday morning. A worst traffic mess was seen on various roads due to the sit-in.

Mehmood said “The Social Welfare director general came to us for negotiations, but he offered us nothing. He had no solution to our problems,” he said.

Visually-impaired people have been struggling for their rights for more than three years now.

“A daily wager who got job in 2015 was promised a job after two months of work but it has been three years now. A daily wager gets Rs15,000 per month. On national holidays and weekends, this monthly amount decreases further,” Adnan explained.

Muhammad Salman, a visually-impaired person, was also among the protesting people. He said he was participating in the sit-in because he had been unemployed despite repeated.