The blind persons said they did not have confidence in the minister’s assurance and would continue to protest until they met the CM

A group of blind persons that has been protesting for a week now met social welfare minister B. Valarmathi on Friday.

But their protest continued on Saturday and 50 of them were arrested and released later in the day.

“We do not have confidence in the minister’s assurance and will continue to protest until we meet the Chief Minister,” said Nagarajan of the College Students and Graduates Association of the Blind.

The members allege that on Monday night they were dropped at a graveyard near Kovalam. Following this incident, some members went on an indefinite fast. The rest of them staged road blockades in various places including Vepery and Nandanam.

Every day of the protest, they were arrested and released in the evening. On Saturday, 50 blind protesters were arrested. “The police have not been humane with us. They have been aggressive and we protest their attitude,” Mr. Nagarajan said.

The Association had presented a nine-point demand regarding employment opportunities in government departments. Their demands included appointing graduates as school teachers in higher secondary schools and lecturers in colleges.

They also wanted the visually challenged to occupy the posts of music teachers in all schools. The association also demanded a reduction in pass percentage in the teacher entrance test.

Succeeding against all odds

While the group vociferously clamours for its rights, a small band of blind persons has trained in using computers. The first batch of 13 candidates completed a year-long PG diploma in computer application — software and hardware — this week.

Five of them found jobs in nationalised banks. Two candidates were appointed to a private company while efforts are on to find jobs for the rest. On Wednesday, the candidates received course completion certificates at Ripon Buildings.

E. Rajeswari, an assistant professor in the Tamil department at Quaid-E-Millath College, is the resource person for the programme. A visually-challenged person herself, she learnt the ropes by competing with sighted persons and doesn’t believe in diluting quality because a person has a disability.

“We are educated and are trained to compete with sighted persons. I believe we must not seek concessions based on our disability,” she said.

The next batch of computer applications courses will commence on October 1.

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