For the disabled people, exercising right to vote has been no less than an ordeal. Keeping this in view, the State Government has decided to ensure that disabled voters get easier access to voting booths in the general elections next year, said Arti Ahuja, Secretary of the Women and Child Welfare Department.
“We will make all the polling booths in the State 100 per cent accessible to differently abled voters next year, besides ensuring that their names are included in the electoral list. We are already in talks with the Election Commission authorities in this regard,” she said, while speaking at the Ashok Hans Memorial Award ceremony and third Child Rights Assembly for Children with Disabilities here on Saturday.
The Ashok Hans Memorial Award, instituted by Shanta Memorial Rehabilitation Centre (SMRC) in honour of its founder Ashok Hans, was presented to Rajiv Ranjan, member, Disability Rights Alliance (DRA). Ranjan was conferred the award by MP Baijayant Panda for his contribution to empowering the disabled.
Ranjan appealed to the differently abled persons to exercise their franchise in 2014 elections.
“They should not only cast their votes, but also contest the polls. Even as the disabled persons constitute a sizeable number of voters, they are neglected by political parties,” he said.
Speaking on the occasion, Panda said people should stop treating the disabled with pity and treat them as equals. “The Government has been taking a number of measures to ensure dignity and rights to the disabled persons in society which is a welcome step. But, a lot more needs to be done. No one should sympathise with them as they too contribute to development of the country like every other person,” he said, adding that disabled persons should also be given a chance to participate in politics.
The event was a colourful affair with the participation of differently abled children from across the State. Deepak Das, Sonali Patra, Rahul Anil, Liza Prusty, Rosalin Puspalata and Chandrakanta Barik in the age group of 10 to 20 were awarded for excellence in fields of debate, art, song and dance.
The Shanta Memorial Rehabilitation Centre was set up in Bhubaneswar by Ashok Hans in 1985 with the aim to work with persons with disabilities and help them exercise their rights.