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Dear CISF Staff at Delhi Airport, Treat the Disabled With Empathy

The head of CISF apologised to me on behalf of the officer that asked me to stand for the security check.

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On Monday, 9 September, I was boarding a SpiceJet flight from New Delhi to Mumbai when I was manhandled at the Delhi International Airport. I had surrendered my wheelchair at the check-in counter and was provided with a porter to assist me to my seat in the airplane. I specifically told them I cannot walk or stand due to a spinal-cord injury from 2006.

When I reached the security checking, one of the CISF officers asked me to stand up. I told her I could not walk or stand, and have previously managed to clear security with a manual pat down.

This is where things got worse. Our conversation went like this:

Can you stand?

No, ma’am. I cannot walk or stand.

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You have to stand, otherwise how can we check you?

Ma’am, I have travelled the world and they’ve done a manual pat down.

“You have to stand!” she repeated. “I cannot!” I replied back. She went to her colleague standing at a distance and tells her, “This girl is being melodramatic, unnecessarily doing drama.” She was unaware that I heard her, and decided to confront her about this.

She started denying everything that she’d said, and told me they were instead talking about another passenger.

Finally, a senior officer came to check me. I was the last one to board the flight. This is not the first time this has happened to me. It is unfair.

This should not be happening in this day and age and the CISF need to meet us halfway. They need to be more sensitised and they need to treat people with disabilities with empathy.

Due to shortage of time, I wasn’t able to complain to the airport authorities at that very moment. Upon landing, however, I wrote to the CISF detailing the incident.

The head of CISF from Delhi called later in the afternoon and expressed his regret over the situation, apologising profusely. He even invited me to meet him whenever I’m in Delhi and asked to provide soft-skills regarding disability to the CISF.

This does not resolve the situation, but this is the stepping stone towards inclusion and sensitivity at airports.

(The author is a disability rights activist. All 'My Report' branded stories are submitted by citizen journalists to The Quint. Though The Quint inquires into the claims/allegations from all parties before publishing, the report and the views expressed above are the citizen journalist's own. The Quint neither endorses, nor is responsible for the same.)

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