Govt loses Rs180m as visually impaired persons’ sit-in enters seventh day


–HRCP calls on government to meet legitimate demands of protestors


LAHORE: The protest demonstration being carried out by 10 visually impaired persons’ for employment rights, regularisation and an increase in allowance entered its seventh day on Friday here at Metro Bus’s Kalma Chowk Station, causing problems for at least 930,000 commuters and a loss of more than Rs180 million to the Punjab government.

The protesters, who have paralysed the biggest transport facility of the city, raised slogans in favour of their demands and against the government.

Their demands state that all visually impaired persons be provided with jobs suitable to their abilities and that the monthly allowance of Rs1,500 is raised to Rs15,000 so that they can survive the month with ease.

In addition to the Metro Bus being unfunctional for the past seven days, the sit-in has also caused a slow traffic flow on what is normally a traffic free time in the city. The demonstrators, who are from Bahawalpur, stated that they will remain where they are until their demands are accepted by the government.

However, neither the Punjab government nor any Metro administration representative has come forward to hold talks with the visually impaired persons as yet.

According to the protesters, the government gives “false assurances” but they will not allow the authorities “to continue to fool them”.

Meanwhile, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) called on the federal and provincial governments to meet the legitimate demands of the visually impaired protestors.

In a statement issued on Friday, HRCP said that it was the duty of all governments who called themselves “civilised” to protect the rights of vulnerable persons and ensure that, as far as possible, their access to employment, fair wages and decent working conditions remained unhampered by their impairment.

“The fact that the protestors at Kalma Chowk have already been there a week reflects poorly on the state’s attitude toward persons with special needs,” said the commission and added that it urged the state to redress the grievances of the protesters swiftly.