Friday, April 24, 2009

Indian state honors young deaf woman who reported rape cases at school

From HimVani in India:

SHIMLA, India -- It was the first programme of its kind in the history of Himachal Pradesh Raj Bhawan in Shimla. The function was dedicated to the cause of the disabled. The Durbar Hall, adjoining the vestibule where historic Shimla agreement between India and Pakistan was signed in 1972, was full of audience. Governor Mrs. Prabha Rau gave away the awards to eight special persons including five disabled.

One hearing and speech impaired whistleblower in the infamous deaf girls’ rape case
at Prerana Institute in Shimla Shikha Sood and three police officers who acted
promptly on her information and arrested the accused teachers were honoured for
social bravery. Four visually impaired students were honoured for their outstanding achievements in academics and sports. Prof. Sunil Gupta, Vice Chancellor of Himachal Pradesh University presided over the function.

“The award functioned was organized by Society for Disability and Rehabilitation
Studies (SDRS), Himachal Pradesh, to highlight the social bravery, achievements
and concerns of the disabled and with a motive to strengthen the disability rights movement in the state,” said Ajai Srivastava, Chairman of the Society.

Besides Shikha Sood (pictured), I.D. Bhandari, Additional Director General Police (CID), R.M. Sharma, Superintendent of Police, and Rajesh Joshi, a lady Sub- Inspector (CID) were given award for Social Bravery. The other awardees - Anil Kumar, Sanjay Kumar, Joginder Pal and Dharmender, all blind students from below poverty line families, had passed the examination of 10th from the Institute for the Blind at Dhalli near Shimla with flying colours and created a record among the students with visual disability in Himachal Pradesh and they were also the champions in athletics at national level. This institute is run by H.P. Child Welfare Council which neither bothered to highlight the abilities of its students nor even thought of to honour their talent ever.

Governor Prabha Rau praised the initiative taken by Society for Disability and Rehabilitation Studies and said that a strong disability rights movement was necessary to create awareness about issues related to disability among common people. She said the traditional mindset of people about the disabled was charity oriented, that needs to be replaced by a modern rights based one. She stressed the need to instill confidence in the disabled persons. Equal opportunities and full participation as guaranteed by our constitution to the persons with disabilities and other weaker sections of the society must not be denied to them. She said our main purpose should be to bring the disabled in the mainstream of the society by providing them good health, education, and rehabilitation facilities.

Presiding over the function, Prof. Sunil Gupta said, “Disability does not belong to any cast, creed, colour, or nationality. Any one among us may become disabled next moment. Therefore, it is necessary to sensitize the people and make theme aware about the rights of persons with disabilities.” He said, “Last year Ajai Srivastava had brought it to his notice that reservation to the disabled students in M. Phil. was not given by the H.P. University. I immediately directed the concerned officers to implement the provision of quota for the disabled as it was mandatory as per the law.”

Ajai Srivastava, organizer of the programme, appealed the people to come forward with a changed mindset and ensure that no disabled was deprived of his rights in their surroundings. He said disability rights movement in Himachal Pradesh was getting momentum day by day and media were playing a major role in spreading awareness about disability issues in masses.