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Very few persons have relentlessly fought for the rights and welfare of disabled. The services of Javed Abidi regarding providing reservations for disabled in employment and exerting pressure on government to pass laws protecting disabled are milestones in the movement for empowerment of disabled persons.

His untimely demise due to chest infection has left many activists and disabled persons in deep sorrow. He was 53 and was ailing for some time. Abidi was the director for the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People. ( NCPEDP). He was also the Global chair of Disabled People International (DPI) a worldly body with special consultative status to United Nations. ” Javed was having a breathing problem for the past few weeks due to smog and bad weather …”, a friend of Abidi said.(www.greaterkashmir.com published March 5). He is survived by his mother, a younger brother and sister.

Services

He was in the forefront of campaign for India’s first disability rights law – Persons with Disabilities Act 1995 ( Aditi Tondon, the tribuneindia.com). “The road ahead is tough but it sure looks like the journey if a lifetime” was his message.

His life

He was born in Aligarh UP. He was diagnosed with spina bifida in early childhood. He was not operated for eight years and as a result, suffered nerve damage. At the age of ten, he injured himself in a fall and had another operation. His family moved to US and he received care at Boston Children’s Hospital and Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. At the age of 15, he start ed using wheelchair and despite difficulties studied in ‘ wright state University’. In 1989, he moved to India seeking a career in journalism.(Timesofindia induatimes.com). The 1990s were marked by drastic changes in the disability sector through his DRG. He was instrumental in drafting disabilities bil l 1995 and inclusion of missing disabilities like autism, dyslexia in the new RPwD Act 2016. He was appointed vice chairman of International Disability Alliance 2013.

Condolences

” We have lost the most prominent voice of our sector. We have lost an international leader as he was the sole voice of the global south …….An era ends with Javed ji” , said Satendra Singh Delhi University and disability rights’ activist.

” The world has lost its brightest crusader for disability rights. As an advocate of ‘ Nothing About Us, Without Us’, he has given voice to an ‘ invisible minority’ by catalysing path breaking changes in the policy and legislative space “, said Reeta Gupta his long- term friend and supporter of advocacy of disability rights in India.

His message ‘ Be ready to fight your own battle’ has a profound meaning and a clear articulation of standing up for the rights of differently abled persons.

Sheshu Babu is a writer from anywhere and everywhere

One Comment

  1. Sally Dugman says:

    Sheshu, I’ll tell you about what I think when someone dies who was one of the best and the brightest for social and/or environmental justice. Someone needs to step up and take his place. And the rest of us who care need to work all the harder, too, to make up for the loss. That is the only way forward as far as I am concerned.