Mistreated at Kolkata airport, say disability activists

Polio survivor Kuhu Das says she was told to remove her trousers and take off her callipers
Last Updated 22 October 2019, 07:46 IST

Airport checking can be tedious for everyone, but it is especially tough on the disabled.

On Sunday, a few representatives were headed for a United Nations conference on disability in New Delhi. They accused the officials at Kolkata Airport and GoAir airline of humiliating and mistreating them, according to reports.

Kuhu Das, a polio survivor, was asked to take off her callipers by a female officer, even after she informed them that it couldn't be done without removing her trousers.

"When I refused, she called another officer and right in front of me, she told her colleague that she had never seen anyone like me before. It was like I had come from another planet. How insensitive is that?" Das told the BBC News.

"It is unacceptable that every time in India, they want me to take off my callipers, which effectively means they are asking me to take off my trousers," she told the news channel.

Jeeja Ghosh, an activist who has cerebral palsy, was told to bring an escort along for her flight, as she would not be allowed to fly otherwise.

They were joined by disability rights activists Sampa Dasgupta and mental health activist Ratnaboli Ray. “We were all travelling by the 2.20 pm GoAir flight, and had arrived at the airport before 1 pm”, Ghosh told the Times Of India.

Ghosh said that the airline took an unreasonable amount of time to get the wheelchair that she requested. The airline staff told her that they were short-staffed, according to reports.

Ghosh has a Masters in disability studies from Leeds University, UK, and has travelled the world on her own.

The Kolkata airport tweeted, "We would like to sincerely apologise for the inconvenience caused to Ms Jeeja Ghosh and Ms Kuhu Das during check-in process at Kolkata Airport."

They stated further that the matter was being taken up strongly with the concerned teams to ensure that such incidents do not happen again.

Responding to the case, GoAir said:

"GoAir sincerely apologies for the unfortunate incident that took place during the check-in process of a handicap passenger on GoAir flight G8102 from Kolkata to Delhi. The handicap passenger did not pre-book a wheelchair but asked for one at the check-in counter. The duty staff upon realizing all three wheelchairs allocated for the said flight were occupied, informed the passenger that she will try to source a wheelchair. It took a few minutes to arrange a wheelchair. GoAir apologies for the delay in sourcing the wheelchair. Wheelchair was sourced and provided for and the passenger was escorted all the way to the aircraft door by the GoAir staff. The duty staff have personally apologised to the passenger and expressed regret for the inconvenience caused to the passenger."

(Published 21 October 2019, 13:39 IST)

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