Disability rights activists have written to the Ministry of Minority Affairs criticising the Guidelines for Haj (2018-’22), which they say discriminate against persons with disabilities by making them ineligible for the pilgrimage, The Indian Express reported.
The activists also condemned the language the guidelines use to describe people with disabilities. The rules bar “persons whose legs are amputated, who are crippled, handicapped, lunatic or otherwise physically or mentally incapacitated” from the pilgrimage.
In the letter to Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, the activists have said that the guidelines not only “blatantly discriminate against persons with disabilities” but are also “in violation of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016”. They pointed out that Saudi Arabia does not ban those with disabilities from the pilgrimage to Mecca.
National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled Secretary Muralidharan told The Indian Express that terms like “lunatic” and “crippled” are abusive in nature. “We have sent letters to Naqvi asking him to drop these discriminatory provisions, and have also discussed the matter with some Members of Parliament in the hope that they will raise it on the floor of the House during the ongoing winter session,” he said.
Satendra Singh, who won the Henry Viscardi Achievement Award for his work as a disability rights activist, told the daily that the guidelines violated the Mental Healthcare Act, fundamental rights guaranteed under the Indian Constitution, as well as the right of persons with disabilities to pray.