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Wheelchair-user activist asked to stand up for pat-down at city airport

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by August 24, 2016 General

CHENNAI: A disability rights activist and wheelchair-user, who helped the civil aviation ministry codify regulations on carrying persons with disabilities, was  himself traumatised due to the lack of its implementation. Security personnel at Chennai airport insisted that he stand up for a pat-down before boarding a flight to South Korea.

Rajiv Rajan, who has been left with limited motor functions due to cerebral palsy, was travelling from Chennai to Seoul for the board meeting of Asia Pacific Disabled People’s Organisation United on Monday night. He was on the airport wheelchair, assisted by the staff of the Singapore Airlines. “The airline staff were stopped by the security personnel, arguing that I should stand for checking, despite me using the airport wheel chair. They said the rules say so. I asked the security to show the rules. By this time, another security personnel came, did the checking and let me in,” he told Express from Seoul.

Rajiv is not new to this. In the late 1990s, Rajiv was not allowed to board his flight by the Air Sahara, that created a furore so big that the Director General of Civil Aviation came out with a Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR) that lay down the guidelines for carrying persons with disabilities and reduced mobility by air, in order to protect them from discrimination and to ensure that they receive all assistance during travel. Rajiv was a member of the drafting committee for CAR in 2010, and when it was revised four years later, he had given his feedback. “Even after all these years, nothing has changed. (I faced the) same problem at 20 (years) and at 45. Silver Jubilee of airport harassment!”

When contacted, Chennai airport director Deepak Shastri said: “First, we should get a complaint, then I will investigate and comment.” Rajiv is the co-founder of Ektha, an NGO that works for people with disabilities. He also was a member of a sub-committee under the National Trust for Compiling and Implementing Disability Equity Training.

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