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Blind marchers clubbed in India

Police wielding bamboo staves Sunday injured about 100 blind people fumbling and groping their way to Prime Minister Indira Grandhi's house to demonstrate for more jobs, a leader of the marchers said. The blind marchers defied a ban on demonstrations near Mrs. Gandhi's official residence to try to present her with the demand that more jobs be reserved for the blind.

"We pleaded with the police at the roadblock to allow them to proceed. But when we tried to march on, instead of arresting us, the policemen started wielding lathis [staves]," said Santosh Kumar Rungta, general secretary of the Indian National Federation of the Blind.

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Some of the blind marchers had traveled hundreds of miles to take part in the demonstration. Their petition for training programs and job opportunities for the handicapped -- India has virtually no such facilities -- never reached Mrs. Gandhi.

There was no immediate comment from the police on why handicapped peoples should have been so roughly treated. Opposition members were expected to raise the incident in Parliament.


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