Monday October 25, 2021

‘DC asked to make sure visually-impaired persons vacate premises of Lahore Panahgah’

August 08, 2021

LAHORE: The Punjab Government’s Social Welfare Department has written a letter to Deputy Commissioner Lahore for making sure that a group of Visually Impaired Persons (VIPs) vacate the premises of Badami Bagh Bus Stop Panahgah and do not return as the shelter is meant for passengers from far-flung areas, The News learnt.

About 20 to 25 blind persons have been staying at the Panahgah for nearly one year. They spend nights and leave for jobs in the morning in the shape of different groups every day. Many of them are working as government servants while some of them are working in private organizations but don’t pay rent for private accommodation.

Shelter-less people and passengers are not allowed to enter the Panahgah at Lorri Adda, Badami Bagh, said Zahida Akram, an official of the Social Welfare. Shahid, an official of Civil Defence posted at Panahgah, said, “Visually Impaired Persons have occupied Panahgah for over a year and they don’t allow other passengers to stay here. If passengers from South Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) want to stay at Panahgah, these special persons create fuss. According to these officials, Social Welfare Department provides them food and other facilities. They are provided hygienic food, beds and shelter. This Panahgah has 120 beds for passengers but 20 to 25 Visually Impaired Persons don’t allow passengers to come here. Nearly 80 to 100 more passengers deserve to be accommodated within the expenditure being incurred on these blind persons but they don’t allow other passengers to stay here. The administration of this Panahgah shifts other deserving passengers to Railway Station and Data Darbar Panahgahs.

Police are there for security of the Panahgah but they do not stop Visually Impaired Persons for not accommodating other passengers. Arif Ali, a spokesperson for CCPO Lahore said, “Police are there for the security. If the district administration issues a policy regarding vacation of the Panahgah, police will do its jobs under the law.”

The staff said the rules of the Panahgah don’t allow anybody to stay for more than three days but these blind men have forced the staff to violate the government rule. But, they said, due to their special status, even the Deputy Commissioner was unable to find some solution.

A Visually Impaired Person sitting on a bed said: “We will not leave this Panahgah.” Another blind person refused to comment when asked about this situation.

Mohammad Shahid Niaz, DG Social Welfare, said this segment of society cannot be forced to leave the Panahgah as the Department is trying to find some alternate arrangement for them.

Mudassar Riaz Malik, Deputy Commissioner (DC) confirmed he had received a letter from Social Welfare Department. “I have no immediate solution”, he said, adding that Panahgah cannot be vacated forcefully. They will start protesting on roads and will get sympathies from people”. According to him, these people would be shifted to suitable places in future and the passengers would be allowed to stay at this Panahgah accordingly.