Owners of private pool in Dehradun face legal action for ‘denying’ entry to autistic people
Dehradun-based centre that provides skill development training to autistic people has decided to take legal action against owners of a private swimming pool for alleged discrimination.
Aparna Das, founder and director of the Project Arunima, said they decided to sue the Varada Swimming Academy after she was told to stop bringing autistic people citing “objection from other members”.
“We are soon going to sue them. The harassment and discrimination against autistic people is unwarranted,” Das said.
The swimming academy refuted the allegations. “There is no question of discrimination against them. There are even visually-impaired children coming to our academy. How can we discriminate against them?” asked Vipul Nautiyal, husband of the academy owner, Priyanka.
Das said the swimming academy changed time slots a couple of times and sought lifeguards and escorts from them and they agreed to all their demands. “They shifted our slot from 12:30 to 01:30 pm to which we objected, because it would have clashed with the members’ lunch...,” Das said.
“We conveyed the same to them but then they said the group has to stop coming as other members are not comfortable swimming with them,” Das added.
Das said every summer, the centre enrols its members in a swimming academy. “This summer we got the 17 members enrolled in this swimming academy. They refused us admission citing few members were suffering from epilepsy,” said Das.
“We assured them that they only suffer a mild form of epilepsy and it would be their responsibility if anything happens to them. They then allowed,” Das said.
“Till now, no government body or authorities concerned have contacted us on the incident, except an NGO named National Centre for Employment for Promotion of Employment for Disable People.” Das said. “After coming to know about the incident, they [NGO] contacted us and asked us to take legal action against the academy.”
Das said she has not told the members that “they are not wanted there anymore, as they would be deeply hurt”. She added she instead told them the swimming session is over.
Autism is a developmental disorder that leads to speech, cognition and behavioural disabilities. Epilepsy is a central nervous system disorder which causes seizures or periods of unusual behaviour.