The members of AISA (All India Students Association) at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) have written to the varsity’s Vice-Chancellor to consider improving facilities for specially-abled students. The issue came up after an MPhil Political Science student, Sourya Sood, fell off his wheelchair on a rough patch behind the School of Social Sciences on June 22. The student had written to the JNU administration regarding the issue, but AISA claims that nothing has been yet done. Hence, comes their letter, urging the VC, Prof Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit to act.
“JNU campus is still inaccessible to Persons with Disabilities (PwDs). In a small survey conducted by AISA, we have found that a PwD student faces several problems. These issues become a barrier to live a dignified life and to access equal opportunities,” a press release from JNU AISA states. The release also highlights the students’ demands.
Students have claimed that the lifts in some JNU Schools don't go down to the basements where the canteens are located. And the lifts stop working after 5 pm, so PwD students face difficulties in accessing these places. Also, a tactile path is absent in places like the Central Library, Stadium Road and the camps dhabas among other places. And it’s been over two months that the potholes on the roads haven’t been repaired. The students additionally stated that the JNU Health Centre has no special worker to assist PwD students.
The press release mentions that there used to be a dedicated worker for PwD students in the mess but there is no one now, and none of the tables in any of the hostels' mess is wheelchair friendly. The students have also demanded that up-to-date laptops and PCs be provided for these students so that they can connect scanners and other equipment easily.
The release additionally states, “There is no provision for Braille newspaper, even in the library. Students in the campuses like DU have access to Braille newspapers. The Campus Development Committee (CDC) does not have any representation of Persons with Disabilities. Representation of PwD students in CDC is necessary to ensure that we move towards an accessible campus.”
“The VC has not yet responded to our letter,” said Madhurima Kundu, Secretary of JNU AISA. Asked if the VC has responded to Sourya’s letter, the student said, “She had met with the students, but after that, no action has been taken. We carried out a survey around the campus regarding the problems faced by PwD students.”