New Delhi: A rights body today wrote to Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, urging him to drop some provisions from government’s guidelines for Haj pilgrims that bar differently-abled people from undertaking the annual pilgrimage.
The guidelines under the ‘eligibility for Haj’ mentions that any Indian citizen who is a Muslim can apply for the pilgrimage except those “who do not have the mental or physical health to perform the pilgrimage, persons whose legs are amputated, who are crippled, handicapped, lunatic or otherwise physically/mentally incapacitated”.
The National Platform for Rights of Disabled (NPRD), which claims to represent a large number of physically- challenged people, today said some provisions “blatantly discriminate” against persons with disabilities and were in violation of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016.
Those affected with polio, tuberculosis, congestive cardiac and respiratory ailment, acute coronary insufficiency, coronary thrombosis, mental disorder, infectious leprosy, AIDS or any other communicable disease or disability also cannnot take undertake Haj, an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca — the most holy city for Muslims.
“These provisions virtually bar any disabled person from undertaking the Haj are in violation of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, which has equality and non- discrimination as its guiding principle,” NPRD General Secretary Muralidharan said in the letter.
This “discriminatory attitude” is all the more surprising since Saudi Arabia does not ban the disabled people from undertaking the Haj, he said.
“On the contrary, the Ministry of Haj has put out an advisory on its site giving information on the facilities available for disabled pilgrims.
“We would request that the above provisions in the guidelines that blatantly discriminate against persons with disabilities be dropped,” the letter read.
Under the Act which was passed in December 2016, the types of disabilities have been increased from the seven to 21.
The newly-added types include mental illness, autism, spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, chronic neurological conditions, specific learning disabilities, multiple sclerosis, speech and language disability.
Disorders such as thalassemia, hemophilia, sickle cell disease, multiple disabilities including deaf blindness, acid attack and Parkinsons disease have also been included.
Also, disability has been defined based on an evolving and dynamic concept and government will have the power to add more types of disabilities to the list.
Acording to the Act, assaulting, insulting, intimidating, denying food to a person with disability or sexually exploiting a differently-abled woman and performing a medical procedure on them without their consent which may lead to termination of pregnancy will draw a jail term of up to five years.
Any person who contravenes any provision of the Act will be punished with a maximum fine of Rs five lakh.