‘Agreement reached with visually-impaired protesters’

The meeting was preceded by a day-long demonstration in front of the Punjab Assembly


A protester smashing a fan against the PA gate. PHOTO: ABID NAWAZ/EXPRESS

LAHORE:


Law Minister Rana Sanaullah claimed on Wednesday to have reached an agreement with a group of visually-impaired job seekers who had been protesting for three days in front of the Punjab Assembly in support of their demand for jobs.


He said under the agreement the government would recruit visually-impaired people on contract positions within three months. He said until there were vacancies the government would provide the protesters with a monthly allowance and also arrange vocational training for them.

However, Omar Rashid, a member of the delegation that met Sanaullah at the assembly premises, dismissed the suggestion that there had been an agreement with the government. He said the meeting had concluded after some members of the delegation agreed to the terms offered by the law minister. “I did not agree with them. I am still demonstrating with my other colleagues at Kalma Chowk,” he said.

The meeting was preceded by a day-long demonstration in front of the Punjab Assembly. Scores of visually-impaired job seekers gathered in front of the Assembly and blocked the road for traffic at around 10am. Some protesters marched towards the Assembly building and tried to jump over the main entrance. To break open the gate, they hammered it with sticks, stones and pedestal fans under use of guards securing the entrance. A protester suffered head injury as he fell from the boundary wall while trying to climb to the other side. Three others fainted from heat and exhaustion and were shifted to a hospital.  A police team reached the scene but watched the demonstration from a distance. Meanwhile, traffic remained block for several hours on the Mall and adjoining roads. Another group of protesters got together at Kalma Chowk and blocked it for traffic at around 3pm. Some of them also blocked the track used for Metro Bus service causing inconvenience to commuters who were stuck in the buses moving between Gajju Matta and Shahdara. The protesters said that the Social Welfare Department had yet to offer jobs to them despite orders for the purpose by the chief minister.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 11th, 2015. 

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