Activists protest ‘denial of rights’ to disabled travellers

Kolkata, Feb 3 (IANS) Disability rights activists launched a sit-in demonstration here on Wednesday to protest against the “denial of basic human rights” to disabled citizens by airline staff following a recent incident where an air carrier’s ground crew allegedly restricted an autistic individual’s movement from Kolkata airport.

As many as 70 activists, under the Disability Activists Forum, West Bengal, said a 24-year-old autistic man, who had travelled from Delhi to Kolkata, was not allowed to board a flight from the eastern metropolis to Dhaka, Bangladesh. They staged their protest at the Netaji Subhas International Airport.

“He was well-received in Delhi. But the Air India ground crew did not let him board the flight to Dhaka. The ground crew threatened that he would not be permitted to travel. He was asked to procure a fit-to-fly certificate later, which he managed from doctors in Kolkata,” a disability activist said.

“If they just needed that then why didn’t they inform him earlier? Why isn’t there any consistent process,” asked R.J. Den, a prominent wheelchair-bound citizen-activist of Kolkata.

The agitators said the incident reflected the denial to right to dignity and basic human rights.

“There is a need to create awareness among people and sensitise airline personnel and other passengers regarding the rights of persons with disabilities with regard to air travel,” a protestor said.

The protest also came in the wake of a differently-abled passenger on an Air India flight being allegedly left to “crawl” to the passenger coach after landing at Delhi airport as the airline failed to arrange a wheelchair for “security reasons”.

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