Tuesday, Mar 23, 2004
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For the first time in the history of elections in Kashmir, physically-challenged people have chosen to contest the polls, to `teach the politicians a lesson' for ignoring the community.
The J & K Handicapped Association president, Ghulam Mohammad Lone, said that he had written to the Chief Election Commissioner of India, T S Krishnamurthy, informing him about the decision. With the general elections round the corner, "we again feel marginalised and neglected at the hands of politicians", says the letter, adding that the disabled have not been given a chance in policy making and that nobody cares for them.
Seeking full support from the CEC in ensuring a free and fair election in Jammu and Kashmir, Mr. Lone said, "We expect help from you as the political parties who have been traditionally exploiting the innocent masses will create hurdles for us. We will contest all the six seats in J & K as the People's Democratic Party, the Congress party and the National Conference have failed to live up to our expectations", said Mr. Lone. He claimed that there were six lakh handicapped people in the State, including two lakh widows, `who are with us'. They have a good chance of winning the elections provided they are free and fair, he said.
Mr. Lone said that the move to contest elections was being taken to `teach these traditional politicians a lesson as they have always exploited the general public, particularly we the disabled'. Criticising successive governments for not paying any heed to their pleas, he said crores of rupees were earmarked under centrally sponsored schemes for the disabled. But where does the money go, he wondered.
The Association is in the process of finalising its candidates and a meeting of its executive is likely to be held in near future
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