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Lined up: dyslexia complaints against PM

Body for rights of disabled condemns Modi’s ‘mocking’

By Our Special Correspondent in New Delhi

  • Published 5.03.19, 3:39 AM
  • Updated 5.03.19, 9:03 AM
Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacts with students at the grand finale of 'Smart India Hackathon' in New Delhi on March 2, 2019.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacts with students at the grand finale of 'Smart India Hackathon' in New Delhi on March 2, 2019. Source: @narendramodi

A national body campaigning for the rights of the disabled said on Monday its state affiliates would file complaints against Prime Minister Narendra Modi for “mocking at people with dyslexia” during an interaction with students on Saturday.

The National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled (NPRD) issued a statement of condemnation even as sections of the public disapproved of Modi’s remarks, interpreted by many as an attempt at purported humour to target political rivals.

“In order to send a strong message that such ridiculing of persons with disabilities will not go unchallenged, the NPRD has called on its state units to organise protests independently or unitedly with other disability organisations,” the group, which had on Sunday demanded an apology from Modi, said in its statement.

The NPRD said its state affiliates would file complaints.

Modi, while interacting with students at an event, had interrupted a BTech student who had started telling him about her project relating to dyslexia.

“Could this idea help any 40 or 50-year-old child?” he had asked, breaking into a chuckle.

When the student answered: “Yes sir, it will,” Modi said: “The mother of such children would become very happy.”

The NPRD and many people have interpreted the remarks as a dig at Congress president Rahul Gandhi and his mother Sonia Gandhi.

The NPRD has said Modi’s remarks constitute an offence under Section 92 (a) of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, which says: “Whosoever, intentionally insults or intimidates with intent to humiliate a person with disability in any place within public view… shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months but which may extend to five years and with fine.”

The central committee of the CPM on Monday deplored Modi’s comments. “In an attempt to portray his political rivals in poor light, the PM displayed his regressive mindset. Coming from a high office, such insensitive behaviour is unacceptable,” the committee said in a statement.

CPM leader Sitaram Yechury took to Twitter to slam Modi for his remarks. “Shameful and distressing. Some of us have dyslexic or disabled relatives, friends, children and parents. Sattar saal mein pehli baar, a person with this crassness occupies the chair of the PM. Enough, Mr Modi. Yeh hain sanskar aapke,” Yechury tweeted.

Roshan Rai, who describes himself as politically aware and a “cricketoholic”, posted: “A Prime Minister mocking dyslexia is nothing short of insensitive and shameful.”

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