NPRD letter to Civil Aviation


Approximately year and a half back, I have written an article Now it’s the turn of airlines. Sad to write a similar issue again but I want my readers aware about the incidents that are pulling the persons with disabilities into troubles. I strongly believe that lack of awareness cause these kind of issues

Below is the letter send from National Platform For The Rights of the Disabled (NPRD) to Civil Aviation Minister after harassment of a lady passenger at the airport. Shared with the permition of NPRD

July 12, 2013
*Shri Ajit Singh*
*The Minister for Civil Aviation*
*Government of India*

Dear Sir,
Once again a case of insensitivity in handling persons with disabilities at Indian airports has come to light.

In the latest instance, a passenger, Suranjana Ghosh Aikara, a person with disability, using a prosthetic leg was handled with utmost insensitivity and inappropriateness by the security personnel at the Mumbai Airport on July 5, 2013. Her harrowing experience has left her humiliated and traumatised. Suranjana’s own narration of the events is attached herewith as an annexure.

As is revealed by her narration, Ms. Suranjana after entering the curtained enclosure of the women’s security check area was asked by the security personnel to remove her artificial leg and put it on the X-ray scanner. She tried to reason, asked the security personnel to physically frisk the leg and carry out an Explosives Trace Detector Test (ETD). It is only after a long and heated argument in the course of which two more senior officials joined in that the security personnel agreed to a physical frisking of her artificial leg and the ETD test.

The ignominy that Ms. Suranjana was subjected to is not an isolated case. There have been several instances in the past where disabled persons with artificial legs, wheel chair users etc. have had to undergo indignity and trauma merely because of lack of awareness, training and sensitivity of the personnel and agencies responsible for security at airports.

While there is no dispute that increasing security threats pose a challenge to security personnel in charge of airport security, procedures have to be so devised that checks on persons with disabilities are done in a manner which is both dignified and do not in any manner seem to be intrusive of their privacy.

In the light of such recurring incidents, we would urge upon you to ensure that a system is put in place where prosthesis users, wheelchair users, those using braces and such other disabled persons can undergo a physical search (without stripping and removing the artificial limb or unseating them from the wheelchairs) followed by an ETD test.

You will appreciate that while the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is framing new guidelines for handling passengers with disability, it is also incumbent that they lay down protocols to be followed by Bureau of Civil Aviation Security that would respect the right of PWDs to be treated with dignity. It is also essential that the security personnel need to be sensitized as to the differing needs of PWDs. Disabled people’s organisations and persons with disabilities may be involved in this process.

We would urge upon you to immediately intervene in the matter so that persons with disabilities are not subjected to such indignity and humiliation in the future at airports within the country.

With regards
Yours sincerely

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