'Students with special needs face harassment for showing dissent'

Delhi University’s teachers’ forum Sambhavana, working for the rights of students with special needs, said students who participated in the protest held on January 8 are being harassed and intimidated.

Students with special needs have been demanding better facilities in the varsity. They are also constantly complaining about no action being taken on the demands raised by them time and again.

“The ex-proctor, who is also the coordinator of the Equal Opportunity Cell (EOC), the deputy proctor, and the deputy dean, who is also serving as the officer on special duty in EOC, are intimidating students on either over the phone or whenever they visit the centre dedicated for disabled students,” said Sambhavana member Nikhil Jain.

Several students who participated in the protest complained that officials are threatening to exclude them from physically handicapped category benefits and facilities provided by the university.

“We are being told that because the protest was video recorded, the officials know who all participated. The intimidation is often derogatory. This, coming from officials holding posts is in bad taste,” said a visually challenged student. “When did demanding equal and basic rights become incorrect?”

A senior official said they have not yet received any complaint regarding the same.
The forum members said no communication has taken place regarding the demands. As an immediate demand, the protesters wanted the vice chancellor to form an empowered committee for drafting a time-bound action plan for resolution of issues.

“Most of these issues have been raised many times from different platforms, but no concrete steps have been taken by the university to address these pressing concerns,” said Jain.

The second demand was that the university should announce a date on which it would organise a ‘disability summit’, where disabled persons would get an opportunity for directly sharing their grievances with the empowered committee. “This can help propose a well-formulated time-bound action plan,” added Jain.

The forum members, after consultations with students and non-teaching members, have decided that if the varsity fails to respond and address the immediate demands, then they will be compelled to intensify their struggle through a hunger strike on Friday.

“A march is also planned to the union human resource development ministry on February 8. We are also trying to seek the intervention of the Prime Minister, UPA chairperson, union HRD minister, University Grants Commission chairperson and the chief commissioner for persons with disabilities, for resolution of our issues,” said Jain.

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