LAHORE - The blind’s protest entered its fourth day when the differently abled demonstrators staged a sit-in on Kalma Chowk Metro Bus Terminal Thursday.

The protesters said they would stage protest on the runways of the Allama Iqbal International Airport if the government did not accept their demands.

The differently abled persons are demanding the Punjab government regularise the blind ad hoc employees and increase their job quota.

The issue came to spotlight on Dec 4 – the International Day of Persons with Disabilities – when police ‘demonstrated their skills’ of baring the differently abled protesters from marching to the CM Secretariat on 7-Club Road. They resorted to marching towards CM office because authorities turned a blind eye to their daylong sit-in front of the Lahore Press Club. The judiciary was moved and opposition parties showed up on streets to cash in on the situation. The exploiters vanished from the scene thereafter, leaving the blind in a blind alley. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif expressed his anger at police mishandling and asked the CM to take action.

The blind however were shown some light on December 5 when Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif met their delegation, led by Pakistan Association of the Blind General Secretary Aamir Ashraf.

A handout cited the chief minister as saying: “Blind persons deserved special attention. I was on a visit to Qatar when this incident took place but as soon as I got informed, he took immediate notice and ordered action against the persons responsible for this tragic incident. I am deeply grieved and want to apologise on behalf of administration and police. Such a sad incident should not have happened. It was responsibility of concerned ministers, secretaries, administration and police officers to take all possible steps to avoid such an incident.”

He pledged to redress their grievance and punish the culprits. The blind were told that the chief minister sought report from the concerned authorities within 24 hours. The handout said that the bigwigs of police and ministers were also present in the meeting.

On Thursday, the Metro Bus Service remained suspended from 6am till noon as a group of special people blocked it in protest. The locals helped the protesters and served them water and meal. A number of commuters were also seen consoling them saying the government would hopefully accept their demands.

Though, this was the fourth consecutive day of demonstrations in the city by such blind persons, but the protest gained intensity on Wednesday after demonstrators beat the gates of the Punjab Assembly with sticks and stones and even some protesters tried to climb the gate and tried to enter into the building.

In a press release, Punjab Minority Affairs and Human Rights Minister said: “Special persons deserve attention and government will give priority to resolve their problems and provide them with jobs in four months.” He was talking to the representatives of blind including Usman, Muneeb, Niaz, Umar and Aamir during meeting with dialogue team at Town Hall on Thursday. Commissioner Lahore Division Abdullah Sunbal, DCO Capt (r) Muhammad Usman, DG Social Welfare and others were also present on the occasion. After the reassurance by Sandhu, the blind persons called off the protest.