Updated: October 14, 2020 9:54:06 pm
A rights organisation on Wednesday filed complaints against actor Khushbu Sundar at 30 police stations across Tamil Nadu after she allegedly used the term “mentally retarded” to attack leaders of the Congress, the party she quit recently to join the BJP. The actor later apologised.
The Tamil Nadu Association for the Rights of All Types of Differently-Abled and Caregivers sought FIRs against Sundar under Section 92 (a) of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 (publicly insulting person with disability), which carries a minimum prison term of six months that may go up to five years.
Meanwhile, Sunder put out a statement expressing regret. “I’m terribly sorry for the incorrect use of a couple of phrases in a moment of hastiness, deep distress and anguish. Being a self-made woman, the insinuation that I was being directed and influenced by significant others in my decisions was both objectionable and misogynistic. I have struggled with mental health concerns in my own family and have friends who are capable leaders, insightful and dynamic and living with bipolar disorder and depression. For their friendship and wisdom, I’m richer! Not just am I sensitive to diversity amongst people, but value it and have gained hugely from it. I realise that many leaders in the past have also made similar references and as much as I am disappointed by the inadvertent distress that I have caused many, equally I am now determined to ensure that I do not repeat this ever, whatever the motivation. I also dedicate myself to ensure that the voices of those with psychosocial disability are valued and heard, as they should be,” she said.
This rights group that filed the complaints is an affiliate of the National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled (NPRD)—which issued a statement on the matter on Wednesday.
On October 13 at the Chennai airport, while interacting with the media, the BJP leader had used “derogatory” terms like “mentally retarded” to attack the party she quit, it said.
While she has “every right to politically take on her opponents, usage of terms that invoke a negative portrayal of disability are unacceptable. Time and again people holding public offices tend to invoke such negative terms to tarnish the image of political opponents, lending them legitimacy. This cannot be tolerated. The National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled (NPRD) strongly condemns the insensitive remarks made by Sundar,’’ said the statement.
“People with disabilities have throughout the ages faced stigma and have been subject to ridicule. Disparaging terms like kana, langada, aandha, pagal etc are part of our lexicon. It is only after long and arduous struggles that awareness and some sensitivity against usage of derogatory terms against the dalits was created. In the case of the disabled also this has to be a continuous process to educate, create awareness and sensitise those in politics as also the general public at large. Proceeding against high profile people should act as a deterrent and would help in sending across the message that insult and humiliation of the disabled and their negative portrayal would to be tolerated,’’said NPRD General Secretary Muralidharan. –With inputs from Manoj Kumar R in Bengaluru
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