“Dear Modi Ji, you always talk about your Mann ki Baat, but today you have to listen to our Mann ki Baat, said one of the disabled protestors at Mandi House who have once again come back after a month demanding joining letters from the Railway Ministry for clearing Group D exams conducted by Railway Recruitment Board (RRB) on Tuesday.

Handicapped candidates from across the country are once again gathering after no action was taken by Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities (CCPD) court against Railway Ministry’s failure to explain the discrepancies in 2018 RRB Group D examination.

Speaking to The Statesman.com, Rashtriya Divyang Sena’s national secretary Nanhe Lal Sharma said, ” We have come to protest here today because the CCPD court had given 15 days time to Railway Ministry to explain its inability to provide joining letters to those candidates who cleared the Group D exam.”

Sharma further said that the protest will grow bigger as more candidates from across the country will come and join the movement and seven people will even sit on hunger strike from today.

Media coordinator Krishna, who is also one of the candidates travelled all the way from Nagpur, Maharashtra said, ” Last month we had protested from October 23 to 25 after which the CCPD court had given 15 days time to Railway Ministry to start the process of document verification of those candidates who had qualified the exam but that did not happen and it’s been more than a month today.”

Krishna had also qualified the exam and received the message for document verification after the results were announced in March this year.  “This movement is not an organised movement, people are joining us through social media posts and qualified candidates are joining us from Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh,” said Krishna.

“We have ten demands from the government and will continue their protest”, Krishna added.

List of demands presented by the protesting handicapped candidates (Photo: SNS/Aena Thakur)

The protesters have not been contacted by the Railway Ministry, CCPD court, or the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan) which comes under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.

Around 7000 qualified candidates, some of whom had prepared for eight years, complain that their result, which was declared in March this year, was later declared invalid after a few days as the number of seats and multiple disability categories were added to the reservation category without any proper communication. At the time of applying for the job there were only 7 categories of disability but after the announcement of results 14 more categories of disability had been added which affected the previously declared results.

The candidates had also received an email from RRB to complete the next step of document verification in a specific format even though the Supreme Court order says that disabled candidates can produce proof of their disability in whatever format they have. The candidates had to suffer inconvenience to complete the document verification process and were left dejected after the RRB declared the results invalid.

The candidates complain that RRB introduced a lot of changes after the March 2019 results which were not made clear before the candidates had applied for the exam. The cut-off or the QR for the exam was declared at a later date, the 4% reservation which is guaranteed to handicap candidates under the Right of person with disability Act 2016.

As per the initial job advertisement, the number of seats in Ahmedabad zone for one leg (OL) disability category were 95, where most of the candidates had applied, which was later reduced to 61 and seats were increased in other zones. Candidates complain if this was the case then why did not the RRB communicate the changes to candidates.

Early today, the protesters have come with a list of ten demands which they want to be fulfilled, that includes the merger of vacant seats reserved for disabled candidates under Visually Handicapped (VH), Hearing Handicapped(HH), Locomotor Disabled (LD), and Mentally Disabled (MD). They also asked the government to give priority to those candidates who came to Delhi seeking joining letters.

A separate car in trains for disabled people and the provision of wheelchairs at all railway stations is also one of their demands.

Prime Minister Modi had given the name Divyang (divine body) instead of viklang to people who have disabilities in his Mann ki baat address in 2015  saying, “We see a person’s disability with our eyes. But our interaction tells us the person has an extra power. Then I thought, in our country, instead of using the word ‘viklang,’ we should use the term ‘divyang.’ These are people who have a limb or several limbs with divine powers which we don’t have.”

Union Home Minister Amit Shah on October 25 had also said at a function, “The biggest gift given by Narendra Modi ji is the name ‘Divyang’. It has worked in changing the approach of the whole world towards Divyangs. Earlier, with the word handicap, there was a sense of neglect and insult.”