This incident faced by Shruti, is after several reports, awareness raising and finally a Civil Aviation Requirement - a regulation that deals with What, Why and How aspects of flying a person with disability with dignity and independence! Its agreeable that in light of recent terror attacks, the security is of critical importance. However, I feel that while disability equity and handling training for the Airport Staff and Airlines Staff has been addressed by the CAR for all fresh entrants and a refresher course after every 3 years, the issue of training Security Guards from CISF has not been addressed.
We have seen such reports in the past also and it calls for a policy decision at the highest level of the Government of India and in particular, Min. of Home Affairs, Min. of Civil Aviation and DG-CISF to look at this aspect in a more comprehensive way. The Security Staff employed at the Air Ports have no right to be rude to passengers with disabilities. They need to be trained and provisions should be accordingly made for them either in the current CAR for carriage of passengers with disabilities by air or through some additional rules/policy and be strictly enforced.
Subhash Chandra Vashishth
Incident as reported in news is appended below. To read from source click: Indian Express
CISF guard at airport asks woman with leg braces to take off salwar
Posted: Mar 09, 2009 at 0115 hrs IST
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.
- Better ground handling including sensitisation of airport staff to the needs of persons of limited mobility is the need of the hour.
- More intense scrutiny of procedures for the yearly renewal of passenger vehicles like checking roadworthiness, proper insulation of wiring, lubrication of all rotating parts, engine oil temperature, safe radiator heating, condition of tyres and brakes, number and quality of fire extinguishers