Rights body asks EC to act against netas using derogatory disability references

NEW DELHI: Disability Rights organisation National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled has complained to the Election Commission of India about instances of derogatory references to disability by some political leaders including TDP’s Chandrababu Naidu, Andhra Pradesh CM Jagan Mohan Reddy and BJP’s Rajasthan state president C P Joshi during election campaigns.
The disability rights activists have sought “exemplary action” and cautioned that if no action is taken then the legal provisions and advisories meant to protect the rights of persons with disabilities will be rendered “meaningless”.
“It is reprehensible that hate speeches, blatant lies, insinuations and slurs are increasingly being resorted to by some political leaders with impunity,” NPRD general secretary Muralidharan states. He goes on to add that “equally condemnable” are instances where political leaders allude to disabling conditions or invoke them to paint their opponents in poor light.
“Such blatant violations are happening despite the Commission’s “advisory to all recognised national and state parties in respect of PwDs”, in addition to the Representation of Peoples Act and the Model Code of Conduct that govern elections as also the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016,” it is stated in the letter addressed to the chief election commissioner Rajiv Kumar.
“We had on March 29, 2024 lodged a complaint against Shri C P Joshi, President of the Rajasthan BJP when he sought to make fun of people “walking on crutches” by alluding them to the condition of the Congress party in the state. Had the ECI acted on this written complaint that was formally lodged with it, such advisories would have gained credibility. Failure to do so renders such advisories but a piece of paper left to gather dust in files,” Muralidharan added.
He then goes on to highlight two other other instances of such violations. One video clip shows “Telugu Desam Party leader Chandrababu Naidu claiming that the “mental condition” of his opponent is “not good”. He further alleges that Andhra Pradesh CM Jagan Mohan Reddy is “psycho in behavior”,” it is stated in the letter.
NPRD also points out that “both Naidu and Reddy have been hurling abuses against each other and the Commission rightly took cognisance of some earlier complaints and through separate orders issued on May 6, 2024 censured both of them. “However, while doing so, the Commission failed to invoke its own advisory with regards persons with disabilities,” the rights body has said.
It further states that “this, despite the ECI taking cognizance of the fact that Naidu had called Reddy a “psycho” on April 15 and Jagan had called Chandrababu a “sadist” on April 3.”
The NPRD also draws attention to a media report of a candidate of the National People’s Party, Kritenberth Marak, insulting a disabled person during the course of his campaign.
“We urge upon you to take exemplary action on these two complaints as also our earlier complaint against C.P Joshi. Failure to do so will render such provisions and advisories meaningless,” Muralidharan asserted.


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