News

Insensitivity of Airport Security

2013-07-12

From India News Network (INN)

New Delhi, July 12:  Muralidharan, Assistant Convener, National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled (NPRD) has issued the following statement:

 The National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled (NPRD) condemns the insensitivity displayed by security personnel at the Mumbai airport while handling a person with disability.

In a letter addressed to the Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh today, the NPRD has sought to draw his attention to the latest instance of  a disabled passenger, Suranjana Ghosh Aikara, who is using a prosthetic leg, was handled with utmost insensitivity and inappropriateness by the security personnel at the Mumbai Airport on July 5, 2013. The letter pointed out that “her harrowing experience has left her humiliated and traumatised.” 

Ms. Suranjana after entering the curtained enclosure of the women’s security check area was asked by the security personnel to remove her artificial leg and put it on the X-ray scanner.  She tried to reason, asked the security personnel to physically frisk the leg and carry out an Explosives Trace Detector Test (ETD).  It is only after a long and heated argument in the course of which two more senior officials joined in that the security personnel agreed to a physical frisking of her artificial leg and the ETD test.

The NPRD has pointed out that the ignominy that Ms. Suranjana was subjected to is not an isolated case. There have been several instances in the past where disabled persons with artificial legs, wheel chair users etc. have had to undergo indignity  and trauma merely because of lack of awareness, training and sensitivity of the personnel and agencies responsible for security at airports.

While there is no dispute that increasing security threats pose a challenge to security personnel in charge of airport security, procedures have to be so devised that checks on persons with disabilities are done in a manner which is both dignified and do not in any manner seem to be intrusive of their privacy.

In the light of such recurring incidents, the NPRD has urged upon the Minister “to ensure that a system is put in place where prosthesis users, wheelchair users, those using braces and such other disabled persons can undergo a physical search (without stripping and removing the artificial limb or unseating them from the wheelchairs) followed by an ETD test.”

Seeking the intervention of the Minister, the NPRD has said demanded that while the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) frames new guidelines for handling passengers with disability, they lay down protocols to be followed by Bureau of Civil Aviation Security that would respect the right of PWDs to be treated with dignity. It is also essential that the security personnel need to be sensitized as to the differing needs of PWDs. Disabled people’s organisations and persons with disabilities may be involved in this process.

The NPRD has urged the minister to take all such measures to ensure that persons with disabilities are not subjected to such indignity and humiliation in the future at airports within the country.

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