Insanity has its limitations. As the world disability day is being celebrated globally with so much fervor and zeal in Lahore, Pakistan, the disabled protestors are being showered with batons by the police! The behavior of these policeman is inexplicable and deplorable. Benign in action and harmless in nature, what was the reason for this unjustified baton charging on these special people who were protesting for their undue rights? The problem stems from the very fabric in our society, where people with disabilities are considered a liability and are lamented upon. They are outcastes in society, deprived of the rights that are only reserved for the abled. We despise them, swear on them, and lack the patience to treat them with affection and due care they are worthy off.
The treatment meted out to disabled people is something that is a taboo and does not carry much weight in a society that is predominantly selfish in nature. Being labeled as ‘disabled’ can be equated to being tainted and carries a stigma with it. It is ironic to see disabled people being sidelined and shockingly discouraged to say the least. The psyche of these people is dented by maligning and making fun of them, not realizing what repercussions it can have. The sensitivity of their emotions is blatantly misunderstood and exploited by senseless people lacking any considerable level of humanity that can be associated with such bigots. Majority of us abled people, do not even have a sense of realization of the difficulties and problems that these people must have to go through on a daily basis. They are discriminated against, subjected to undue levels of mental torture and restricted at every given level. They are made to realize of their helplessness and set aside at every echelon of society. They are duly rejected and considered incapable of performing any meaningful tasks that could aid society in any given manner.
Over a period of time, the value of disabled people to economies around the world cannot be underestimated. They are honorable citizens in society, have equal rights, given due priority and protected from abuse and unjust discrimination. In Germany, for example patients detected with autism are being hired in renowned organizations like SAP, because of their uncanny ability to decipher long sets of data and unbelievable memory retention skills. They are adding value to the organization and to the economy on a whole, making them self-sufficient and responsible at the same time. In a country like Pakistan, where official figures of disabled people is around 5 million but the real number may be much higher. It is surprising to know that no official survey has ever been carried out to highlight the plight and marginalization of this segment of society. Although, NGO’s and other private organizations are tirelessly working to bridge the gap by raising constant awareness regarding the issues being faced by these people, the efforts are falling short. By official government policy, only 2% of the quota of the workforce is allocated to people with disabilities. Considering Pakistan’s population is over 180 million and growing at a staggering pace, the amount of people born with disabilities would only be increasing. There is a shortfall on part of inadequate government policies to address their issues, lack of awareness among large segments of the populace including the educated elite is mind blowing.
The behavior exhibited by the police today in Lahore, highlights the impending reality that brutality is a foregone conclusion and they can persecute anyone they consider as a ‘threat’. They were shoved, pushed aside by the police and maltreated in ways that was highly unjustified and objectionable. From my own personal experience, I can vouch for the fact that disability is given no due consideration, special treatment is scarce in quantity in our country. For example, many shopping malls in Lahore advertising car parking facilities for the disabled are actually being utilized for parking cars by the abled! Buildings lack appropriate facilities to house the disabled and their movements are hampered as a result of it. In normal circumstances, priority is given to people with disabilities, starting from standing in queues to cinema houses where special seats are specifically reserved for them. On a positive note, Cinepax situated in Fortress stadium, Lahore has implemented a strict policy of aiding people with disabilities, by providing them with wheelchairs and escorting them to the cinema hall without incurring any extra charges. It is something to be welcomed and respectively appreciated. The road towards recognizing the due rights and special treatment for disabled people is full of hurdles, a lot of awareness still needs to be raised. I do sincerely hope, that the incident we witnessed today is never ever repeated again.
Credits for 1st Screen grab: http://www.dawn.com/news/1148521/police-baton-charges-blind-protesters-in-lahore-several-injured
Credits for 2nd screen grab: http://tribune.com.pk/story/801148/police-manhandle-blind-protesters-in-lahore/