Disability Rights Alliance


Tuesday, 10 March 2009

2009, Shruti Paul

CISF guard at airport asks woman with leg braces to take off salwar

MUMBAI : Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel deployed at the Mumbai airport allegedly asked a disabled passenger to take off her salwar for security check because she had metallic braces on her legs. The Indian Express had reported how Mumbai airport has been receiving at least 10 to 15 complaints from passengers every month on the overbearing behaviour of the CISF personnel.

“I’ve never felt so disgusted and humiliated in my life and it was not the first time I was travelling,” said Shruti Paul, who was on her way to Lucknow on a Kingfisher flight last Friday. Shruti, who suffers from polio, said she was wearing a caliper on her left leg and braces on her right knee; this would make the metal detector beep every time she passed through it.

“I pulled up my salwar a little to show her my caliper, but she asked me to take it off in the open-ended women’s cubicle,” she alleged. She said her ordeal lasted about 20 minutes, during which she was made to get up thrice from her wheelchair and asked to remove her salwar.

“They said I was not cooperating with them. But I did all I could, considering the heightened security at airports these days. But I could not take off my salwar. I felt like a criminal,” she said, while stating that the woman CISF guard, P Poonam, kept talking on her mobile phone while she was checking her.

Eventually, a senior CISF officer asked the guard to let her go. “He asked me to carry a disability certificate the next time I travel,” said Shruti.

Sanjay Prakash, CISF’s Senior Commandant at Mumbai airport, was unavailable for comment. “While it is mandatory for every passenger to pass the metal detector to enter the terminal’s security hold area, this kind of behaviour is simply unheard of,” said an airport official.