Crusader for PwDs’ rights retires from railways after three decades of service

In 2015, Raviprakash, then working as assistant mechanical engineer, won the state government award for the ‘most efficient differently-abled employee in the public sector.
P G Raviprakash at his office
P G Raviprakash at his office Photo | Express

KOCHI: P G Raviprakash, who fought for the rights of persons with disabilities (PwDs) for three decades and was awarded the best government employee, retired from the Railways after 32 years of service on May 31.

Raviprakash, born with 60% locomotor disability, fondly remembers his first legal battle, to get his posting order in the Railways. “I secured the 16th rank in the Railway Recruitment Board (RRB) examination for various posts in Southern Railway back in 1987. However, despite running from pillar to post, I did not receive a posting order for the next five years. I then moved the Central Administrative Tribunal in November 1992, and won the case in just two weeks,” he recalled.

Raviprakash joined duty at the Railway Olavakkode control office on December 2, 1992, at the age of 29. “It was a new place. I had to go without eating for a couple of days initially, as following the Babri Masjid demolition, all shops and eateries in the locality were closed. I had nothing to eat. Finally a kind co-worker prepared food from her home and brought it for me,” said Raviprakash, the eldest of four children of Govind Panicker, a former FACT employee, and P Shantamma, a retired high school teacher.

Raviprakash, who originally hails from Nedumudy in Alappuzha, soon proved his mettle and entered the good books of senior officials. In 2015, Raviprakash, then working as assistant mechanical engineer, won the state government award for the ‘most efficient differently-abled employee in the public sector.

The accolades, however, brought to his attention the plight of PwD employees. He then formed the Differently-abled Railway Employees Association the same year.

“To set the administration right, you need to know your rights first. The PwDs too are highly talented and my effort was to create awareness in them. What started with three to four persons is now an association having over 300 people,” he said. The association took up many issues, including the non-implementation of promotion for disabled railway staff. The legal battle which started in 2017, ended on December 1, 2023, with a favourable verdict.

Following his retirement as office superintendent (Mechanical Coaching Depot Officers Office), he plans to spend his life empowering the PwDs. Raviprakash and Sreekala have two children, Gowri and Viswanath.

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