Centre to discuss maltreatment of disabled air passengers
With growing instances of maltreatment of differently-abled passengers by airline staff, civil aviation ministry has decided to convene a meeting to discuss the issue with NGOs working for their rights.
The decision to call the meeting came in the backdrop of a prominent NGO, Disabled Rights Group (DRG), alleging that the prevalent security regulations for pre-embarkation screening were "not only disability insensitive but also an outright insult and violation of the human rights of persons with disability".
Concerned over the growing instances of maltreatment meted out to differently-abled air travellers, civil aviation secretary Nasim Zaidi wrote to DRG Convenor Javed Abidi saying that a meeting would be convened soon to discuss the issue threadbare.
"I assure you that the ministry will take all possible steps to not only ensure compliance with the regulatory framework but, if need be, also to strengthen it further," Zaidi said in the letter.
The DRG, which had recently moved an RTI in this regard, quoted the prevalent security regulations and said due to such rules, disabled passengers faced "undue harassment at the hands of untrained security personnel".
"More often than not, disabled passengers using a wheelchair are asked to 'stand up' or 'transfer' from their personal wheelchair to sub-standard wheelchairs," it said, adding that the security personnel "are not trained in" and that's why they don't know that most wheelchairs were customised to suit the needs of the disabled persons.
Abidi said, "Nowhere in the world will a disabled person be asked to take off leg braces or explain medical attachments like a leg bag that holds urine. This is not only humiliating but a violation of human rights."
While DRG was not seeking any leniency in security procedures, he said countries with greater security threats have defined guidelines for screening such passengers.
These nations have "developed systems to ensure that such passengers are frisked with due respect to their dignity," he said and asked, "Why can't the Indian government learn from such practices and adapt them here?"
Till such measures were adopted, "More and more cases of disabled passengers being harassed, humiliated and off-loaded by airlines will continue to happen," Abidi said.