News

Volume 2 Issue 20 - October 15, 2004

Disabled woman discriminated against by Gulf Air

DNIS News Network -Humiliated by insensitive airline staff, a disabled woman is fighting for justice.

Picture of Dr Shruti Mohapatra.

Dr Shruti Mohapatra, who is a wheelchair user, was humiliated and discriminated against by the employees of Gulf Air on her way to Winnipeg. The incident occurred in Muscat where Dr Mohapatra had to take a connecting flight to London as she was flying in two laps.

Recalling the harrowing experience, Dr Mohapatra alleged that she was deplaned from a Gulf Air flight on her way to London on the grounds that she lacked a medical certificate stating that she was fit to fly. Having just flown from Delhi to Muscat on the same airline without any problem, the request for a medical certificate took her by surprise.

Dr Mohapatra, who was to attend a disability summit, also said that even the captain of the flight joined in humiliating her and refused to fly unless she showed a certificate. To add to her agony, the crew members flatly refused to agree with the airport doctor certification that she was absolutely fit to fly. When Dr Mohapatra protested, the police were called and she was deplaned in a humiliating manner.

Angered by the blatant discrimination by airline staff, she has complained to the Union Civil Aviation Minister, Praful Patel. The minister, however, has so far failed to respond.

Javed Abidi, Executive Director, National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP) and a noted disability rights activist, has taken up Dr Mohapatra's cause. He said: "Such behaviour is not expected from any airline officials who are in the customer services industry."

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