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Blind, but following Anna all the way

Blind, but following Anna all the way

Author: Dipankar Ghose
Publication: The India Express
Date: August 21, 2011
URL: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/blind-but-following-anna-all-the-way/834862/0

They had never seen Anna Hazare, and nor could they see the number of his supporters who had gathered at the Ramlila Maidan. But the 50-member team of visually impaired students that arrived around 11 am on Saturday were not only among the most vocal of the people present, but possibly also the most knowledgeable on the Jan Lokpal Bill.

"All the students who I have brought here have read both the government's bill and the Jan Lokpal Bill in Braille. As none of them wanted to be left behind in the movement, they pestered me to bring them," said Gaurav Anand, teacher at the National Association for the Blind in RK Puram.

For these students, keeping track of the events at the Hazare campaign is a matter of pride. Soham Singh, who has only 5 per cent vision in his left eye, said, "It took us longer to read the two drafts, but we did it because it was important for us."

Sailesh Kumar, one of the blind students, said the group had joined Hazare's fight against corruption for very practical reasons. He said, "The physically handicapped have always been an easy target for the corrupt. Seats that are reserved for us are often given away to general category students who can afford to pay for them. We believe that Anna's cause can help us as well as much as it helps anyone else."

A volunteer was heard telling the group, "I am so happy that you have come. I have sons at home who think they have no part to play in the protest. But your presence will help inspire them to come. Thank you."

Arvind Gaur, theatre activist and member of Hazare's core team, also appreciated their efforts. He said, "We are privileged to have them amid us. Nobody is excluded from this movement, and they embody this fact."

The visually challenged students stayed till 3.30 in the afternoon, spending close to five hours at the site. They may not have seen themselves as different, but for everyone else, they were undoubtedly special.

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