News

Volume 9 Issue 1 - March 15, 2012

Passengers with disabilities branded as a ‘threat’ to airport security

D.N.I.S. News Network, India: Through a Right to Information (R.T.I.) application the Disabled Rights Group (D.R.G.) has learned of a shocking case of discrimination against passengers with disabilities in the name of ‘security’. In a reply to the R.T.I. query on the procedure observed while frisking passengers with a disability, especially those using their own wheelchairs, the Airports Authority of India (A.A.I.) has furnished a procedure laid down by the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (B.C.A.S.) which is the Regulatory Authority for Civil Aviation Security in India. The regulations say:

  • “Screeners should be thoroughly briefed that the possibility of carrying weapons/explosives and other dangerous materials through such passengers is higher than a normal passenger and therefore, these passengers need to be checked with care.”
  • “There is no scope for leniency in respect of invalid/disabled/sick persons during the pre-embarkation screening/procedures. On the contrary, there is ample reason to be more alert and wary.”

As a result of this need to be “alert and wary”, passengers with disabilities face undue harassment at the hands of untrained security personnel. More often than not, passengers using a wheelchair are asked to ‘stand up’ or ‘transfer’ from their personal wheelchairs to sub-standard airport wheelchairs. And if passengers use electric wheelchairs and if it also happens to have medical attachments, they might as well forget about flying with dignity in this country!

“Nowhere in the world, will a person with disability be asked to take off leg braces, or explain medical attachments like a leg bag that holds urine,” said Javed Abidi, Convenor of D.R.G. “This is not only humiliating but a violation of human rights. We are not asking for any leniency in security procedures. After all, civilized nations of the world have developed systems to ensure that passengers with disabilities are frisked with due respect to their dignity. Why can’t the Indian Government learn from such practices and adapt them here?” he added.

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