Disability Activist Asked to ‘Take Off Pants’ at Kolkata Airport
A group of disability activists travelling to New Delhi from Kolkata have accused officials of the Kolkata airport and airline GoAir of humiliating behaviour on Sunday, 20 October.
In what was an hour-long ordeal, activist Jeeja Ghosh, who has cerebral palsy and has travelled alone all over the world, was allegedly told by GoAir officials that she couldn’t travel unaccompanied, while she was waiting for the others to arrive at the airport.
Das, who wears callipers on her leg, is also said to have been told by CISF officials to take off her pants for an inspection after the metal detector beeped during security checking.
Das was joined by disability rights activists Sampa Dasgupta, Kuhu Das and mental health activist Ratnaboli Ray on this trip to national capital to attend a United Nation Conference on disability.
“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.
“I had requested for a wheelchair, but that took ages to arrive. When I contacted the airline, the person who answered said they were short-staffed. When I finally managed to reach the check-in counter, the staff said I could not fly unescorted and that I would have to wait till others arrived”, she further told the paper.
Das, on the other hand, expressed shock at the behaviour of the CISF officials.
“For a moment, I couldn’t believe my ears. It was absolutely shocking and utterly humiliating. I have taken so many flights but never been asked to do what the officer did on Sunday,” she said.
Responding to the incident, a CISF official told TOI that they “checked CCTV footage and sorted the matter with the woman officer who had asked Das to remove her trousers”.
“Our officer had asked the woman to show her callipers, which is standard checking procedure. There was no intent to embarrass her,” he said.
In a statement, GoAir said:
“GoAir sincerely apologises for the unfortunate incident that that took place during the check-in process of a handicapped 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 realising 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 apologises 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.”
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