Happy to assist: Special travelers receive special treatment at the Kolkata airport

KOLKATA: The Kolkata airport has a special help desk and dedicated lane for priority security check of people with disabilities and elderly flyers. The facility will also cater to pregnant women and single women travelling with children. The help desk at the airport entrance will be manned by specially trained Central Industrial Security Force. They will escort the passengers with special needs or assistance till the boarding gates, if needed.”Not just people with disability, even those with pacemaker or implant can approach the counter with the relevant documents and our personnel will help them pass through the security check without hassle,” said a senior airport official.The move follows a Supreme Court ruling in December 2021 where it had asked airports around the country to be more empathetic towards the flyers with special needs and bring in a more humane approach while serving them. The Supreme Court had ruled that people with disabilities should not be asked to remove their prosthetic limbs or calipers during security checks at airports, nor they be lifted manually without consent. It also said security checks should be done without violating the person’s dignity. In October 2021, actor Sudha Chandran had uploaded a video on Instagram and tagged PM Modi about her ordeal in Mumbai airport where she was asked to remove her artificial limb. The CISF had tweeted an apology the following day.Given this backdrop, the CISF facility at Kolkata airport is a huge step forward. “Before roll-out, we had multiple meetings with disabled rights activists and multiple special needs people. In 90% of the time, we do not require such passengers to take off their prosthesis, and calidpers are no longer removed. However, there have been instances where prohibited goods were hidden inside prosthesis. According to the official, “We take special care in checking them with metal detectors and other measures, and prosthetics are opened in rare cases in the presence of airlines, airports, and a gazetted officer. City-based disability rights activist Jeeja Ghosh’s case against a private airline that had forcibly offloaded her from a flight in 2012 led to the landmark judgment in 2016 highlighting two important rights of disabled travelers – accessibility and reasonable accomodations. This is a truly fantastic project that will help solve many of the issues that individuals with disabilities encounter when traveling through airports, according to Ghosh.

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