Wednesday, November 28, 2018

CISF person treats wheelchair user insensitively at Mumbai airport

A Mumbai resident was recently at the receiving end of insensitive treatment by airport security personnel.
Virali Modi, who is a beauty pageant winner, model, aspiring actor, and disability rights activist, lost the use of her legs in 2006 after a bout of malaria and is a wheelchair user. She says she reached Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport for her flight to London, en route to Kansas city, around 11.30 p.m. on November 26, well ahead of her flight.
At check-in, Jet Airways assigned her an attendant, the normal practice for persons with disability. The attendant took her to the security check around 12:15 a.m. on November 27, Ms. Modi told The Hindu in a private message; “He also asked a J.K. Meena, from CISF [Central Industrial Security Force, which handles security at Indian airports] to come along to verify that my wheelchair has been scanned.” There, she was lifted into another wheelchair while her personal wheelchair was scanned. After this, back in her own chair, she was wheeled in for her security check, around 12:30 a.m., with the CISF officer still with them. “Mr. Meena told the lady CISF person that the scanning of the chair had been done and that I am not able to stand.” That was when things got troublesome.
The porter took her into the curtained booth. “[The CISF person] was wearing a mask,” Ms. Modi says, “I couldn’t see her name tag. She had the audacity to ask me ‘Did you also go into the scanner with the wheelchair?’ Her tone was rude and a bit aggressive. I said ‘No.’ She then tells me that I have to stand so she can properly pat me down. I told her that I couldn’t. She kept saying, Aapko khada hona hi padega otherwise mein aapka checking kaise karongi? [You must stand, otherwise how can I check you?]’ I told her that I travel quite often, and no one has ever asked me to stand. She then goes to say, Mein aapko khada karongi. [I will stand you up.] I again said no repeatedly. She says, Aapko humare par bharosa nahi hai? [Do you not trust me?] I said, Trust ki baat nahi hai. Mere ghutne mein strength hi nahi hai to stand. Aap khada karoge aur mein giri toh aap responsibility loge? [It’s not about trust. I don’t have the strength in my knees to stand. If you make me stand and I fall, will you take responsibility?]’ I think this pissed her off even more.”

The security person then began the pat-down, and while doing so, forced Ms. Modi’s legs upwards so that she could check the backs of her thighs. Ms. Modi says she had had been sitting continuously since 8 p.m. that night, unable to stretch, so her legs were already cramping. The rough treatment sent her leg into a spasm, causing her pain. “As soon as I get out of the security check, I told the porter what had happened and that I want to make a complaint, around 12:45 a.m.. He looks around for the head of security, and tells me that he can’t find anyone and tells me to let it go.”

Ms. Modi’s flight began boarding around 1.30 a.m., she says, which left her little time to lodge a formal complaint.
28/11/18 Peter Griffin/The Hindu