MANGALORE: The figures huddled under the make-shift pandal near the DC’s office were hoping for some solace and some respite.
For each one led a miserable life robbed of all dignity.
However, it was the plight of differently-abled couple Seshappa Poojary and Surekha that stood out tugging hearts of all and sundry.Participating in the symbolic dharna organised by forums for physically handicapped persons to press implementation of their demands, the couple braved the scorching sun in the hope that their miseries would end.
Seshappa Poojary, who crawls on the floor with the help of his hands, says he was declared eligible for a monthly pension of Rs 1,000 and his wife Surekha was eligible for a monthly pension of Rs 400. The monthly pensions together took care of their few needs including the education of their son Akash Poojary who was studying in tenth standard in Puttur.
The couple, however, had not received any pension for six months. “We were abused and humiliated whenever we made enquiries about the pension with the departments concerned,” he says in a choked voice. The couple have been forced to begging in order to make both ends meet.
Activist Krishna Prabhu says officials attribute the delay in releasing pension to the ongoing survey to detect malpractices in disbursal of pension.
Prabhu cites a circular from the government where the Revenue Department was asked to wind up the survey within three months. But, the ongoing survey work, which is now six moths old, is showing no sign of being wound up, he adds.
Addressing the gathering, Tulunadu Rakshana Vedike convenor Yogish Shetty said disabled persons being forced to agitate was a resounding slap to government’s claims on being a welfare state.
Later a delegation headed by Prabhu and association president Dinesh Shetty submitted a memorandum to the deputy commissioner urging the government to implement seven demands, including releasing of pension without delay, a survey of endosulfan victims and releasing of a monthly pension of Rs 2,000 to them as done in Kerala.
Women and Child Welfare Department Deputy Director Shakuntala, who visited the site of agitation, attributed the delay to the ongoing survey work. “The lack of documents in justifying the extent of disability is one of the reasons behind the delay in completion of survey work,” she claimed, and added that she had written to the government highlighting the plight of the disabled.