“This time we voted with aan, baan and shaan. A red carpet was literally rolled out for differently-abled people at all polling stations across the city,” said an elated Sanjeev Sachdeva, as he returned from his polling booth in Mansarovar Garden in West Delhi on Thursday.
Mr. Sachdeva, director of NGO Sanjeevani, said: “It was a pleasure being made to feel important and to participate in the electoral process.”
“I drove to the polling station in my motorised wheelchair. A sturdy wheelchair of a well-known brand was kept with the words “May I Help You” written on it. An attendant had also been provided and he turned out to be an employee of the Union Ministry of Urban Development. As I entered the corridor, the police personnel accorded me priority and I was ushered in. It was the first time I saw an electronic voting machine and with the help of my attendant, I managed to vote. It was such a heady feeling.”
In fact, a large number of differently-abled people gave the Election Commission a thumbs up for the manner in which they ensured that all polling stations and booths were made barrier-free this time, and also for providing wheelchairs and volunteers.
“Time and again, we have complained about the problems we faced when we went to vote. During the Delhi Assembly elections we faced a few hiccups, but this time I would like to congratulate the Election Commission for the stupendous work in this area. We did not face any difficulty while voting today,” he said.
Neeru Gautam, a motorised-wheelchair user and rights activist, who works with NGO Sahyogi, said in the past, differently-abled people had to be lifted and taken inside booths, which was quite embarrassing. But this time, things changed for the better. Ms. Gautam, who cast her vote at Booth No. 95 in West Patel Nagar, said not only were the ramps in place at the polling booths, the wooden poles that used to obstruct the movement of wheelchairs had been removed.