Thursday, October 1, 2015

Disabled activist `humiliated' at IGI

1-Oct-2015

Anvit Srivastava

NEW DELHI: Disabled rights activist Javed Abidi was forced to get off his wheelchair at the Indira Gandhi International Airport on Wednesday, when despite his protests, the CISF gave him the option of either complying with their rules or missing his flight. 

Abidi said he had travelled across the world without having to suffer the humiliation of being made to get off the wheelchair. He had earlier helped frame guidelines on how the frisking process could be made more disabled-friendly . The Central Industrial Se curity Force, which handles security at the airport, how ever, said it had its own manual that said wheelchairs had to be X-rayed. 

In 2014, disability activists Rajesh Bhatia, Shivani Gupta, Smiti Bhatia and Suranjana Ghosh Aikara had framed guidelines to be followed by the CISF to ensure there was no discrimination on the basis of disability in air travel. "I was asked to get off my wheelchair and shift to another one. When I questioned them, I was told this was the security protocol and was mandatory for all. I have travelled through major international airports but never faced such a protocol," Abidi said. 

Reacting to the incident, activist Shivani Gupta said the guidelines stated that no wheelchair user shall be forced to stand. It also says that the official must not attempt to manually lift the wheelchair user as this is against the person's dignity and jeopardises safety, she said. Abidi had reached the airport to board Air In dia flight AI 275 to Colombo, for an official meeting, and was traveling with two of his colleagues. After his travel documents were checked, and he arrived for frisking, he was stopped by CISF personnel. 

Abidi tried to tell the personnel that rules had been framed to make the frisking process easier for persons with disabilities. "But they were adamant on getting my wheelchair in their custody for checking," he said. 

The rules framed to make air travel easier for persons with disablities also says under no circumstances should the passenger be asked to remove cast, brace, callipers, metal implants or supportive alliances and even shoes, if the passenger cannot remove shoes. 

Rajesh Bhatia, who was involved actively in framing the guidelines, said CISF was following guidelines that were issued by the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS)."For instance, CISF does not use explosives trace detectors (ETDs) which are in use worldwide to avoid inconvenience to a disabled. I also had to undergo a similar frisking early this month. The BCAS had assured me they would amend their standard operating procedure, as per our guidelines, but it was never done," Bhatia said. 

Abidi has alleged that the officials were not cooperative and were rude to him. He said the 2014 guidelines were framed with the involvement of the ministry of civil aviation and BCAS along with other authorities. This had led to reframing of the manual and the officials underwent proper training as per the new rules. 

"I myself was a part of framing rules and conducted workshops for the officials. On Wednesday , no official seemed to be aware of those rules. This is the first time I am experiencing such a humiliation. The officials started to off-load my luggage and prepared to escort me out of the airport. I finally get off the chair as I was to at tend a crucial meeting. What if it was some paralysed person or someone who couldn't get off," he said. 

The officials involved in the matter, however, said they were bound by protocol. A senior CISF official told TOI that as per the existing rules, a person with inability to walk or stand shall be offered a chair for screening. He said a support shall be extended by an official from the respective airline or those travelling along with the person. 

"His cushion was unusually thick. We requested him to move to one of the airline's wheelchair so that his chair could be screened, but he refused.We asked him to follow the rules and told him we were bound to follow the protocol.He was also shown the manual. Checking the wheelchair is necessary to ensure public safety . Finally , we had to tell him that we had left no option but to not allow him beyond the frisking point. None of our officials misbehaved or behaved rudely ," the official said.


Source : http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/Disabled-activist-humiliated-at-IGI/articleshow/49176027.cms