SRINAGAR - In three years to 2017 — when the coalition government of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was in power in Occupied Jammu & Kashmir — 31,085 people were certified as disabled in the 10 districts in Kashmir valley, up 74% from 17,898 people in the three preceding years, data obtained through right to information requests show.
The rising unrest in the Valley played a role in the increase, activists said, specifically pointing to the use of pellet guns for crowd control.
Jammu and Kashmir is the only state yet to implement a 2016 law that recognises 21 disabilities–up from the earlier seven–suggesting that actual numbers could be even higher.
Infrastructure in the state is not disabled-friendly, activists said, especially in public offices and educational institutions.
In six years to 2017, Kupwara district registered the most people with disabilities (10,825), followed by Anantnag (8,638), Baramulla (7,274) and Pulwama (5,461).
In 2011, the state had a disabled population of 361,153–56.7% male and 43.2% female–and up 19.3% from 302,670 in 2001, according to Census 2011. Hearing disability was the most prevalent (21%), data show.
*Conflict Led to Rise in Disabled Population*
As of 2014, more than 100,000 disabilities were due to conflict, according to a November 2015 study published in the Journal of Business Management and Social Sciences Research (JBM & SSR). Post 2016, the use of pellet guns has increased the number of disabilities, according to Srinagar-based human rights activist Khurram Parvez.
Since 2016, 1,314 eyes of 1,253 people were impaired after being hit by pellets, and the chances of recovery are poor, *Greater Kashmir*, a local daily, reported on April 8, 2018. Blindness accounted for 68.9% of disabilities in the state compared to 44.5% nationwide, according to the JBM & SSR study quoted above.
“The government has no policy to help these victims,” separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq told *IndiaSpend*. “Since it is their responsibility to rehabilitate them, they are the one(s) who should come formed and help them, but the government has completely failed to rehabilitate them.”
“According to official figures, 17 people were killed by shotgun pellets between July 2016 and August 2017, and 6,221 people were injured by the metal pellets between 2016 and March 2017,” according to the first ever United Nations Human Rights report on Kashmir , released on June 14, 2018.
The Centre criticised the report, with an external affairs ministry spokesperson describing it as “fallacious, tendentious and motivated”, violating Indian sovereignty and “a selective compilation of largely unverified information … overtly prejudiced and seeks to build a false narrative”.
*The Pending Act*
In December 2016, parliament passed the Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2016, thereby replacing the 21-year-old Persons with Disability Act, 1995. The new law increased the number of recognised disabilities from seven to 21, suggested penalties for discrimination, and hiked the reservation for persons with disability–for education and government jobs–from 3% to 4%.
More than eighteen months since, all these are yet to be implemented in Jammu & Kashmir .
Under Article 370 of the Constitution, parliament has power to make laws only on defence, external affairs and communication-related matters of Jammu & Kashmir . So, a legislation has to be passed in the state’s assembly for bills passed by the parliament to come into effect in the state.