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Kashmir Government Promises To Start 1998 Disability Law
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
July 24, 2003

SRINAGAR, KASHMIR, INDIA--Last week, the government of the state of Kashmir promised to implement the Persons with Disabilities Act which was passed by the state assembly five years ago, according to OneWorld news service.

The new State Chief Minister, Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, said he would make sure the act -- which was designed to guarantee equal opportunities, protection of rights and full participation of the people with disabilities -- would be implemented soon.

"I will ensure the Act is implemented in letter and spirit and physically challenged people are given their basic rights," Sayeed said.

Hostilities between Indian and Pakistan over the state of Kashmir have left the area with an estimated one million people with physical disabilities. Many have been injured by landmines, bullets and grenades.

But the government cannot be precise about the number. The first population census in 20 years, conducted in 2001, deleted the special column for those with disabilities which was included throughout the rest of India.

Even with the law, Khurshid Malik, president of Shelter Towards Independent Living (STIL), says the government needs to stop looking at disability as a charity issue and start promoting equal rights of people that have disabilities.

"Unlike the West, where disabled persons live a full life, in Kashmir lack of awareness, facilities and governmental apathy shortens the lifespan, leading many to die just three years after the injury," Malik said.

Advocates also accuse the federal government for ignoring the rights of persons with disabilities.

Related article:
"Kashmir's Disabled to Get Support" (OneWorld)


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