The Delhi Metro has courted controversy by pasting a health advisory at stations, asking “mentally disturbed persons” and those infected with certain diseases not to travel on its trains. The advisory also mentions those infectious/contagious diseases.
It further said only leprosy patients with a certificate from a registered medical practitioner, stating that the disease is non-infective, were allowed to travel on the Delhi Metro.
NGOs working on disability rights have criticised the advisory.
“This is discriminatory and shows Delhi Metro’s ignorance. It is not acceptable at any cost. This has come at a time when the Supreme Court has passed a judgment in favour of an activist with cerebral palsy. He was offloaded from a plane four years ago,” said Naveen Kumar, trustee and psychologist at Manas Foundation, an organisation that works in the field of mental healthcare.
Sunil Kumar Aledia, who runs an NGO called Centre for Holistic Development (CHD) for homeless, noticed the advisory at the Hauz Khas Metro station on Thursday and immediately lodged a complaint with the station controller.
“I was disgusted to see such a poster issued by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), which is considered to be a sensitive organisation. How can they discriminate against people on the basis of disease? If they don’t want sick people to board the Metro, then they should shut the stations near hospitals,” said Aledia.
The diseases mentioned in the advisory are cerebro-spinal meningitis, chicken pox, diphtheria, mumps, typhus, whooping cough, cholera, measles, scarlet fever, typhoid and tuberculosis.
“These are old regulations in place as per the Delhi Metro Operations and Maintenance Act. No new rule has been created by the DMRC. Similar rules are also in place at other transport systems,” said an official.
“This is another example of people being unaware about the ‘mentally disturbed’ condition. If they are concerned about security, then they should know that it is mostly ‘normal persons’ who are violent. I have never seen a ‘mentally disturbed’ person attack someone. Not just on Metro, but discrimination should end everywhere,” said Aledia.
“We as a society must create an environment where everyone has equal rights. You cannot ask someone not to use the Metro just because he is mentally disturbed or carrying some disease. When I complained, the station controller asked me if I would like to travel with an infected person? We need to change this mentality,” he added.