Tue, 14 Nov 2000

Blind people seek protection

BANDUNG (JP): A dozen blind people, who are being trained at the Agricultural Training Center for the Blind in Cisarua Lembang, West Java, have approached the legislative council over intimidation by residents living around the training center.

Victor Banuara, the spokesperson for the blind said that around 12 families of the Pasirhalang village, where the training center is located, had arbitrarily tilled the land belonging to the training center for about one year.

"We resisted their actions. In return they blocked the waterway, causing the supply of water to the training center land to stop. They claim the land belongs to them. Once they challenged us to fight and they frequently pounded on our doors at night," Victor said.

The intimidation was sparked by a dispute between the locals and the Wiyata Guna foundation, which manages the agricultural training center.

The locals claimed that the foundation illegally took over the ownership of the land in 1973. They said the land belonged to their ancestors.

The foundation argued that according to the then Social Affairs Ministry's decision, the foundation was authorized to cultivate the 5.7 hectares of land for the training of the blind.

"We don't want to get involved in the land dispute. We just want the legislature to clear the problem so that we can live and work peacefully. Our training programs have been disrupted," Victor said.

Deputy chairman of Commission A at the legislative council Maky Yuliawan said the councilors would officially ask the local police to protect the blind people from intimidation by local residents. He also said that both the foundation officials and the residents would be summoned to settle the dispute. (25/sur)