LAHORE: The voice of the disabled remained unheard even on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities as dozens of visually-impaired students were beaten by the police at an event to mark the occasion.
On Saturday, police officials assaulted students who were trying to enter the Alhamra Arts Council where Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif was presiding over a ceremony organised to mark International Day of Persons with Disabilities. The students wanted to convey their grievances to the chief minister but were denied entry by police officials.
Subsequently, some were locked in the Alhamra Art Gallery. The students said that they were told that they would be taken to the ceremony, but were locked up in the art gallery instead. They claimed that police officials started beating them when a protest was launched.
The students blocked The Mall for traffic and it was later reopened after the chief minister left the ceremony. The students said that they only wanted to convey their grievances, including getting jobs on the reserved quota, to the chief minister. Police officials maintained that the students were stopped because they did not have identification cards.
Shahbaz announced Rs300 million for the rehabilitation of persons with disabilities and an additional Rs200 million in the next fiscal year.
To a question about thrashing visually-impaired students earlier in the day, provincial minister Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman, said treating the disabled in such a way is not the policy of the Punjab government. “What happened was done by the police and an inquiry has been initiated.”
Published in The Express Tribune, December 4th, 2016.
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