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Somatirtha Purohit

A case of alleged discrimination against a divyang popped up in Odisha on Tuesday after a visually impaired man’s nomination papers for the upcoming Panchayat Polls was rejected as he had used Braille to sign the papers. 

The victim, identified as Shantilal Sabar, a resident of Gandamer village of Komna Block in Nuapada district, filed his nominations for Sarpanch post in the forthcoming three tier Panchayati Raj elections.

As per reports, the nomination papers Sabar had submitted was rejected on the grounds that he did not know to write and read Odia. He visited the State Election Commission Office seeking the Commissioner’s intervention in the matter.

“I filed nomination from my village, but the Block Development Officer (BDO) rejected my nomination stating I am unable to read and write,” alleged Sabar. 

“I can read and write using Braille which is an internationally accepted language for visually impaired persons,” he added. 

On Sunday, as many as 8,648 nomination papers submitted by candidates for the elections to various positions in the Panchayati Raj Institutions in Odisha were rejected during scrutiny. 

Of those, 5,544 nominations filed for the election to Ward member position were rejected due to various reasons.

Similarly, 1,753 nominations filed for the post of Sarpanch, 1,119 for Panchayat Samiti member and 232 Zilla Parishad member were also rejected.

After scrutiny, 2.20 lakh nomination papers remained valid. Out of the total valid nomination papers, 1,56,753 have remained for the post of Ward member, 32,860 for Sarpanch, 27,034 for Panchayat Samiti member and 3,767 for Zilla Parishad member.

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