By M M Special Correspondent
New Delhi: the Government of India’s stand in the High court on debarring disabled persons from Hajj has come for sharp criticism. The National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled Thursday deplored the affidavit filed by the Union Ministry for Minority Affairs in the Delhi High Court in a case challenging the new Haj Policy that virtually bars certain categories of disabled persons from undertaking the Haj.
Muralidharan Vishwanath, general secretary of the NPRD said in its attempt to defend the Haj policy that is outright discriminatory, the government is portraying the entire disabled community as beggars. “This is demeaning and an out-and-out abuse, which has to be squarely condemned. That a few disabled are compelled into begging, reflects poorly on skewed priorities of successive governments at the centre that have failed to ameliorate the conditions of the vast mass of the disabled population”, he added.
He recalled that a NPRD delegation met the Minister for Minority Affairs Muktar Abbas Naqvi in January along with MP T K Rengarajan, MP, and asked him to remove these discriminatory provisions. Then, the Minister assured that he would issue an advisory to the Haj Committee of India to review the guidelines and “bring it in conformity” with the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016. He had also assured that “corrective action” will be taken”, Muralidharan said.
Even while the clause “Persons whose legs are amputated, who are crippled, handicapped, lunatic or otherwise physically/mentally incapacitated” – are ineligible to apply for Haj — has been removed from the guidelines uploaded on the website of the Haj Committee of India – that this was under pressure, is quite obvious.
It is to be mentioned that there is no ban put by the Saudi Arabia government on performing Haj by disabled people.
What is even more outrageous is that in its affidavit the government has sought to defend the usage of this derogatory terminology. This is unacceptable to say the least.
Notwithstanding the use of patronizing terms like Divyang to connote people with disabilities, the disabled continue to be denied dignity, accommodation and recognition of their rights as equal and productive citizens, he said.