Paracyclist Aditya Mehta reiterated that he had not sought an exemption in airport security rules for persons with disability, in a conversation with Scroll.in.
Mehta, a two–time silver medallist at the Asian Paralympics had earlier highlighted, in a Facebook post, about his humiliating experience of being asked to remove his prosthetic leg at the Kempegowda International Airport in Bengaluru before he could board his flight to Chandigarh on August 26.
After the story had popped up on several news media outlets, Mehta told Scroll.in says that several respondents and social media commentators had wrongly accused him of trying to “bypass security rules” and that they had not “read the entire story”.
“I didn’t ask for special rules – only that airports in India be equipped with a full-body scanner which is the norm that I have witnessed in the 22 countries that I have visited so far,” said Mehta who faced a similar incident four days later at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi on his way to Hyderabad.
Mehta stated in another post that a senior official had explained to him that the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security “doesn’t have enough funds to have [a] body scanner which could be a sensitised way of checking.”
The aggrieved Mehta though does not buy this explanation. “Hundreds of crores of rupees are spent on airports but these machines will hardly set you back by Rs 30-40 lakh and allow for a more humane way of checking,” said Mehta while re-iterating the need for sensitivity among security personnel while dealing with persons with disabilities.
The reaction to the complaints he has raised with the Central Industrial Security Force providing security cover at airports have also been disappointing. “I have raised a complaint but I’m yet to hear back from the Ministry of Home Affairs (the governing body for the CISF),” Mehta added ruefully.
Mehta is not alone in his complaint, as others shared their experience on Twitter.
Antara Telang’s experience had also made the news back in January when she had tweeted of a similar ordeal that she had faced at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai.
Mehta feels that there needs to be greater amount of information and sensitivity from the able-bodied about the difficulty of removal of prosthetic limbs, both physically and mentally.
“New amputees may not be very comfortable with the idea of removing prosthetic limbs in public areas. Also, the able-bodied have no idea how difficult it is for an amputee to take off a prosthetic limb and then put it back on,” says Mehta.
Aditya Mehta is also the founder of the Aditya Mehta Foundation, which has 500 volunteers who help amputee soldiers from the central armed forces rehabilitate and train in various sports disciplines such as cycling, swimming and badminton.