“A handicapped person has to suffer insult throughout her life and when somehow they study and qualify the exam the government betrays us,” Yashoda Chaudhary from Hanumangarh district in Rajasthan is among hundreds of handicapped candidates from all across the country who are protesting in the national capital.
The candidates who cleared the 2018 Railway Recruitment Board Group D examination are protesting at Mandi House after the RRB results showed discrepancies and no clarification was communicated by the Railway board.
Around 7000 qualified candidates some of whom have prepared for eight years, complain that their result, which was declared in March 2019 was 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 were 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.
In their letter to PM Modi, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, 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.
One of the protestors from Gaya, Bihar says “Be it the BJP government or any government, we have been given 4% reservation under the 2016 Act, out of that 1% reservation is given to LD category (Locomotor Disabled) which means only one kind of disabled can apply for that seat, how many such candidates have been given jobs? We want the government to show us the number of disabled candidates admitted.”
“We prepared all the required documents in the railway format and when the government won the elections we get the message that we are not selected.”
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.
Yashoda Chaudhary says, “We appeared for the Railway Recruitment Board’s group D exam on this basis that we will get 4% reservation, we appeared for this exam after preparing for so long and received merit and qualified the exam and received email from the RRB saying we have passed the test and we will be exempted from the physical test.”
“The RRB email had said that we should keep our documents ready for verification. We prepared the documents anyhow and after a few days the RRB website stopped showing our registration. When we asked the railway board about this discrepancy we were told that you are handicapped and there are no vacancies for handicapped candidates in Railways.”
Thousands of candidates like Yashoda faced the same problem and took their complaint to Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities court (CCPD) in June.
Saurabh Kumar an advocate and founder of Toshiyas NGO for handicapped has been fighting the case for these candidates and speaking to The Statesman he said, “I filed the application at CCPD court on 25 June and I was told that the decision will be out in two days. That did not happen and CCPD court since then issued four summons none of which was attended by the RRB or anyone from the Indian Railways.”
The candidates who cleared the exam had come to the Office of the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities for a fourth hearing on Wednesday. Saurabh Kumar said “The CCPD court said unless all the candidates who received the document verification message are not present in the court the decision will not be given.” In a bizarre demand the court asked 7000 handicapped candidates who qualified the RRB group D exam to be present in the court. Kumar says the CCPD court has insulted the candidates by calling them from across the country and not pronouncing the decision. “Today we have seen the difference between their actions and words. They call us divyang for their own benefit,” said Kumar. CCPD court has given seven days time to Railways to respond but the candidates demand immediate action.
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 ‘viklaang,’ we should use the term ‘divyaang.’ These are people who have a limb or several limbs with divine powers which we don’t have.”