Persons with disabilities sought an inclusive society, free from disparities for disabled and walked from Ram Manohar Lohia Park to Sangeet Natak Akademi for the ‘Able joining disabled marathon’ on Thursday.Braving the winter chill, many with their walking aids, some on wheelchairs and others marching in speed with all enthusiasm propelled passersby to stop for a while and join them during the marathon organised by SPARC India in association with the UP Viklang Manch. Hindustan Times was the media partner.
Persons with various disabilities came from across 13 districts of Uttar Pradesh to be a part of the marathon to demand the attention of the state and also the people. Amitabh Mehrotra, founder chairperson and director SPARC India said, “All that we want is an inclusive society where disabled persons have equal rights. We want policies at the state level to ensure that persons with disabilities are given their due rights.”
In addition to submitting a charter of demands to the state minister, the persons who walked during the marathon emphasised the need for a disabled-friendly infrastructure in the state, especially in markets and other public places.
Ram Naresh, who has a disability in his lower part of the body, came from Sarojini Nagar to be a part of the marathon. He said, “We are here to demand attention of the government for our employment. People feel that we are disabled and would not be able to deliver good results if they appoint us. But the fact is that we have the guts to brave our disability and prove our worth.”
Tej Bahadur, a participant in the marathon said, “There are so many places in the state capital that deny entry to persons with disabilities. There are no ramps and provisions for special toilets for us, which makes it inconvenient for us to lead a normal life.”
Minister for backward class and handicapped welfare, Ambika Chaudhry, who was the chief guest at the event, said that the society needed to be sensitised towards persons with disabilities. He said, “The state is working for the welfare of disabled persons and is trying its best to ensure that such people get their due rights in society.” He said that the government had introduced a policy for the disabled in the state and would take suggestions for further improvements in its policies to ensure a friendly atmosphere for persons with disabilities.
SPARC India submitted a memorandum to the minister on behalf of all disabled persons of the state demanding reservation, education and other benefits for disabled.