Give Jobs or Let Us Die: Differently-Abled Protesters to Railways
Thirteen protesters vow to end their life on 3 December if government officials don’t restore job promises.
On Delhi’s Mandi House road, 13 protesters with benchmark disabilities have been on a hunger strike for days in an attempt to get the attention of the government and India’s largest employer, Railway Recruitment Board of Indian Railway (RRB).
“We have not eaten for three days, but the government has not sent any medics to check up on us,” says Mani Kumar, a 25-year-old from Bihar.
The protest is one of five that started after the Railway Recruitment Board released the results of the written exam taken by the people in Group D, a category for people with disabilities. The protesters were shortlisted for the job, but after revision, were no longer included.
“Everybody encourages us to study, but in the end, I am not getting a job,” says Kumar. “Instead, my family is asking me not to come back because they realised they couldn’t take care of me forever.”
“My family knows I am on strike, but they are not calling me back because they want me to assert my rights,” says 25-year-old Bhavana Yadav. “I should get this job; this isn’t justice.”
The protesters started their hunger strike three days ago and vowed to end their lives on 3 December, which is the International Day of People with Disability, if the government does not address the issue.
“We have sent a letter to kill ourselves to the prime minister. If you are not going to listen to our demands, then at least give us the permission to kill ourselves," says Yadav. “We want jobs. How long are we going to live off our parents? Eventually, I need to take care of myself.”
The protesters have been sleeping on the cold road for three days, and the government has only sent a water tank once.
Mohammad Aslam Ansari, a daily wager from Jahanabad, Bihar, travelled nearly 20 hours to Delhi by the Purushottam Express to demand answers from officials and also to assert his rights as an Indian citizen – but he fears his voice will go unheard.
“We get food from an NGO sometimes, and we had a water tank, but they complained that it was blocking traffic, so they took it away because we are a burden."Aslam Ansari, Daily Wager
“It rained heavily twice, but the administration has not met us,” said BHU Kamar, a 25-year-old from Jaunpur. “We have been waiting here in the hope that someone would come and speak to us.”
According to the protesters, 25,000 differently-abled candidates were suddenly dropped from the list by RRB. They also claimed that the general category applicants were appointed as usual, but Group D was treated differently.
“We are a burden on our family, we are a burden on the government,” said Pittu Prasad Sharna, a 28-year-old from Griridh, Jharkhand. “I am a burden if no companies want to employ me, and the government also doesn’t want to employ me.”
The protest was only supposed to last for three days, but many protestors like Sharna are opposed to leaving Delhi without a job in hand.
“We thought we could trust the government, but we were disillusioned and betrayed,” said Sharna. “We feel like substandard citizens, and we are not leaving until we get a job or die sitting."
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