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Jobs Protesters Injured In Clash With Police
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
December 30, 2003

BHUBANESWAR, INDIA--Six disability rights activists were injured in a struggle with police Friday when they protested the government's failure to provide jobs as required by law.

The activists, all of whom are blind or have other visual disabilities, have been staging a hunger strike since December 10. They are demanding that teaching assistant jobs in public schools be set aside for people with disabilities. The 1995 People with Disability Act required the government to set aside 3 percent of its jobs for workers with hearing, visual and speech disabilities. The protesters accused the government of giving them "empty assurances and a callous attitude".

According to India's news service The Telegraph, 35-year-old Panchanan Nayak had announced that he would sacrifice himself in protest at the Lower PMG Square. Police arrived and tried to remove the demonstrators, resorting to what some described as "police brutality".

One police official allegedly took a white walking stick from one protester and used it to hit Lata Mandal on the head. Mandal, a 25-year-old member of the Orissa Association of the Blind, remained in serious condition at Capital Hospital on Sunday, the newspaper noted.

A police official said some of his colleagues were also injured in the clash.

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