Even as India celebrates its second polio-free year, a differently-abled assistant professor of Delhi University — affected by polio in childhood — has been asked to vacate his house at Gwyer Hall which was allotted to him in 2008 as a temporary accommodation until an alternative disabled-friendly dwelling was made available.

Wheelchair-bound G.N. Saibaba, serving as an assistant professor of English in Ramlal Anand College, had been given temporary accommodation at the Warden’s Residence in Gwyer Hall (a premier PG hostel in DU) in 2008 with the promise of a permanent accommodation.

However, the Estate Officer of DU on December 26, 2012 served him an eviction notice saying that he had “unauthorisedly occupied” the premises and would be forcibly evicted if he did not vacate the house within a fortnight. The letter came as a shock since the DU had not given any alternative accommodation. The university has begun eviction proceedings against Dr. Saibaba under the Public Premises Act of 1971.

The matter has now been taken up by the Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA) that has expressed shock over the “callous show of ruthlessness on the part of the university administration in attempting to forcibly evict a colleague suffering from severe orthopaedic disability from the university accommodation that had earlier been provided to him in view of his handicap.”

It has appealed to the Vice-Chancellor on humanitarian grounds and asked him to reconsider the eviction orders.

The DUTA feels that the university must fulfil its social duty to the needy and honour the Person with Disabilities Act of 1995 which mandatorily requires it to offer a stable accommodation with wheelchair access to its employees. The failure to do so will not only be a clear violation of the provisions of this Act, but also tarnish the image of the university as a disabled-friendly institution of higher learning that claims to guarantee equal opportunity.

Dr. Saibaba had been given the present accommodation for a term of one year and asked to go on study leave to pursue his Ph.D. after which the DU would make some arrangement for him. The allotment of the house was being renewed every year orally. Dr. Saibaba’s study leave ended last year but he was allowed to occupy the house by the present Vice-Chancellor.

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