In India, it isn't a secret that we aren't the most disability-friendly country out there. Sometimes wheelchairs aren't available and other times the required help isn't. According to Business Line, we have about 80 million people with disabilities in our country yet we don't provide them with a suitable infrastructure.
Two disability activists in Kolkata were held at the airport and humiliated by airport officials
Yes, according to media reports, before two of the four disability activists who were on their way to a United Nations conference were getting on a flight from Kolkata to New Delhi they faced an hour-long humiliation by officials. One of them was Jeeja Gosh who was the election commissions poster child for getting people with disability out to vote in the general elections this year. The other person was Kuhu Das who is the secretary of the Disability Activists Forum.
Jeeja, who suffers from cerebral palsy was told by the GoAir officials that she could not travel unaccompanied. She said, "I had requested for a wheelchair, but that took ages to arrive. When I contacted the airline, the person who answered said they were short-staffed. When I finally managed to reach the check-in counter, the staff said I could not fly unescorted and that I would have to wait until others arrived."
Kuhu is a polio survivor and wears calipers on her legs was asked to take off her pants for inspection by CISF officers. She said, "For a moment, I couldn’t believe my ears. It was absolutely shocking and utterly humiliating. I have taken so many flights but never been asked to do what the officer did on Sunday."
What the tragic thing is that both of them were part of a four-people contingent for a meeting on rights of disabled women.
Talking to BBC Kuhu said, "We protested, we said this was discriminatory, so the person at the check-in counter apologised. But we are not angry with her. It's not an individual problem. It's how an airline treats a person with a disability."
Kolkata Airport issued a statement on Twitter saying that they apologise for the inconvenience caused.
We would like to sincerely apologise for the inconvenience caused to Ms Jeeja Ghosh & Ms Kuhu Das during check-in process at #KolkataAirport. The matter is being strongly taken up with concerned teams to ensure that such incidents does not happen again.@AAI_Official@MoCA_GoI
According to The Quint, GoAir also issued a statement about the incident.
They said, "GoAir sincerely apologises for the unfortunate incident that that took place during the check-in process of a handicapped passenger on GoAir flight G8102 from Kolkata to Delhi. The handicap passenger did not pre-book a wheelchair but asked for one at the check-in counter. The duty staff, upon realising all three wheelchairs allocated for the said flight were occupied, informed the passenger that she will try to source a wheelchair. It took a few minutes to arrange a wheelchair. GoAir apologises for the delay in sourcing the wheelchair. Wheelchair was sourced and provided for and the passenger was escorted all the way to the aircraft door by the GoAir staff. The duty staff have personally apologised to the passenger and expressed regret for the inconvenience caused to the passenger.”
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