Pune: Several youth with hearing impairment protesting in Pune against the issuance of disability certificates to ineligible persons were Monday subjected to a baton charge, organisers alleged, though police claimed it was "mild force" to restrain them.
"Over 11,000 differently-abled youth had assembled in front of the Social Welfare Commissionerate in Pune on Monday afternoon when the incident happened," Pradip More, secretary, State Level Association of the Deaf (SLAD), said through an interpreter.
The Opposition Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) slammed the police action.
More said their demands included the right to quality education, provision of trained interpreters for deaf students and stopping fraudulent distribution of disability certificates to able-bodied persons.
"When we tried to take out a rally, the police ordered a lathi-charge in which several of our protesters were injured. They also detained some of the youth," More alleged.
An official from the Bund Garden police station, however, claimed the assembled youth tried to take out a rally and block the road despite having permission only for a sit-in protest.
"We had to use mild force on them to bring the situation under control," the official said.
More claimed over 18 lakh deaf youth in the state had decided not to vote in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections unless they get an assurance from authorities that their demands would be met.
Meanwhile, Baramati Lok Sabha MP Supriya Sule termed the police lathi-charge as "shameful" and hit out at chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, who also holds the Home portfolio.
"Differently-abled youth indulging in a peaceful protest have been lathi-charged by the police. The chief minister has no moral right to continue. He should resign immediately," the NCP leader said.
Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil of the Congress slammed the police action and said the BJP-led government should apologise to the protesters and accept all their demands.
In a statement in Mumbai, Vikhe Patil said the government policy was to suppress protests against it.
"People will ensure such a government is sent home after elections. The government should apologise to the protesters and accept all their demands," the Congress MLA added.
Updated Date: Feb 26, 2019 08:17:57 IST