A group of visually impaired men and women protested near Valluvar Kottam on Monday, demanding government jobs.

The protestors, from various parts of the State, said they had been trained on the assurance that they would be given jobs in the government-run printing press.

“Through the RTI Act we have learned there are 263 vacancies in the press. If we are given jobs, these vacancies could be filled,” said M. Ramachandran, one of the protestors.

“All of us had recommendations from MPs and MLAs to undergo the book binding course. Those who qualify are automatically absorbed into the press since we have been recommended for the course,” he explained.

R. Saravana Kumar, 34, who is from Madurai said he had recommendations from six elected representatives to join the course. “I had recommendations from three MLAs and three ministers. “Anybody who has studied up to class VIII or X can do the course. There are now 65 qualified binders and none of us has been given a job,” he said.

The protestors were also worried that the course would be discontinued, leaving a segment of the rural population with fewer job opportunities than before. “Until 2002, the government was conducting a course called ‘fitter’. It was taught at the school for the visually challenged in Poonamallee. Students were absorbed into the electrical department of the press. In 2003, there were 160 persons who were qualified for the job but since they had not been absorbed for several years the course was struck down,” Mr. Kumar said.

Every year, 20 candidates are admitted to the book binding course. For several years now, qualified students have been petitioning officials of the social welfare department and the State commissioner for the disabled for jobs, without much success.

The protestors said they would continue their agitation on Tuesday too, hoping to draw the attention of the Chief Minister.

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