Airline Makes Para Swimmer Wait For More Than An Hour For Wheelchair

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By: Navneet Mundhra
Updated: 07 June, 2022 12:43 am IST

BENGALURU: A month after a private airline denied a specially-abled child to board its Ranchi-Hyderabad flight at Ranchi airport, an Indian para swimmer too had to face an alleged insensitive incident.

Para swimmer Shams Aalam on Monday took to Twitter to express his unhappiness over the treatment meted out to him by Air India staff at New Delhi airport. The 35-year-old had represented India at the 2018 Asian Para Games in Jakarta, Indonesia.

“Dear Air India, I landed with AI 309 at 5 pm at Delhi Airport. I am a wheelchair user and I informed the cabin crew that I need my wheelchair at the gate. After an hour, I am still waiting and have not received my personal wheelchair. I need to use the washroom and no one is supporting me,” he wrote.

Talking exclusively with The New Indian, Shams said the issue is not just about him but about thousands of people who use wheelchairs.

“I feel blessed that I can raise my voice because I have a platform like Twitter and have access to journalists who can amplify my voice. But I am thinking about thousands of people, who use wheelchairs, that are subjected to shabby treatment,” he said.

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“All the Indian airlines must make efforts to sensitise their staff about how to behave with physically disabled people. No one should feel insulted or humiliated,” Shams stated.

When asked about the incident at the Delhi airport, he said, “Even before the flight landed, I had asked the crew members of the airline to provide me with my own wheelchair at the gate of the aircraft and they assured me that it would be done. But I had to wait for more than one hour before I got my wheelchair. I wanted to use the washroom but couldn’t,” he narrated the ordeal.

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“After more than an hour when my wheelchair came, I needed someone who could help me move from the airline’s wheelchair to mine but no one volunteered though there were many staff members who were just looking at me,” he elaborated.

“I am raising this issue only to spread awareness so that others who use wheelchairs don’t have to go through the wringer,” he signed off.

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