India’s first visually impaired Disability Commissioner, passes away at 69.

India’s first visually impaired Disability Commissioner, passes away at 69.

Prasanna Kumar Pincha, India’s first visually impaired Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, died on 26th July 2020 at the age of 69. Shree Pincha, blind since birth, was a reputed disability rights activist and he served as Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities for a three-year tenure, from December 2011 to 2014.  With a legacy spanning almost four decades of committed activism – PK Pincha was admired and beloved for his mentorship and vision. Pincha’s activism is a testament to his phenomenal intellectual force and commitment. He had done extensive work with marginalised communities in Assam while working with the international NGO, ActionAid. 

In 1999, he received the National Award of Best Employee (Visually Disabled) from the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. He was the founding Principal of the Government Institute for the Blind in Jorhat, Assam before the institution was taken over by the government. Pincha went on to hold several positions of eminence and responsibility. At ActionAid, he held the position of Regional Senior Manager for the North-East of India. He also served as the Senior Manager and National Theme Leader, managing the international NGO’s work on the United Nations Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. He has also held the position of Joint Director of Social Welfare, Government of Assam. Before taking charge as the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, he was associated with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) as the Special Rapporteur for Persons with Disabilities. He also served as Chairperson of the National Trust for the Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities. In 2006, while working for ActionAid, Pincha won a legal battle against a bank, to earn the right to have an account and use his cheque book like other fellow employees. The Industrial Development Bank of India required Pincha to furnish an undertaking saying he would bear any risk of fraud, before authorising him to use a cheque book. Pincha contested this condition as discriminatory at the Guwahati High Court, and won the case.

At the time, Pincha reportedly said that the battle has been won, “but the war has just begun.” 

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