Blind protesters, police come to blows at Azad Maidan

Police lathicharge, arrest about 100 visually impaired persons who were agitating at the Azad Maidan, reports Dhaval Kulkarni.

india Updated: Nov 14, 2006 06:36 IST

The Azad Maidan police on Monday briefly lathicharged and arrested about 100 visually impaired persons who were agitating against the state’s decision to “deprive the blind of government jobs”.

The protesters — gathered at the Azad Maidan under the banner of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) — were seeking a meeting with Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, Deputy Chief Minister RR Patil, Social Jus- tice Minister Chandrakant Handore and Chief Secretary DK Sankaran.

On being told the ministers concerned were not in the city and that Sankaran could not meet them, the protesters tried to take their march to Mahapalika Marg.

The police tried to stop them, but the protesters spilled on to the road and staged a rasta roko, bringing traffic to a standstill up to Dhobi Talao.

They also allegedly hit four policemen with their canes, including police sub inspector Nana Shinde, who was hit in the eye. The police then resorted to force to detain the protesters who were taken to the Azad Maidan police station, where they were released later in the evening.

“We were protesting against the state government's attempt to deprive us of our bread and butter. The refusal of top government officials to meet our delegation, angered some youth, who decided to take to the streets,” said the NFB’s Dattatraya Jadhav.

In 2003, NFB had filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) demanding government jobs for the visually impaired. A court ruled in favour of the federation this September. However, while releasing ads for these jobs, the state only asked the partially blind to apply, which protesters said, deprived people with severe visual impairment of the jobs.


First Published: Nov 14, 2006 06:36 IST