Does the security check guidelines for the disabled at Airport need a change?
A right to information (RTI) application was filed to know about the procedure for security check of physically-challenged passengers at airports. Quoting the Civil Aviation regulations, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) informed that a physically- challenged person has a higher risk of carrying weapons and explosives than a normal passenger and, hence, there should be no leniency. The screening procedure as laid down by the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security says: “Screeners should be thoroughly briefed that the possibility of carrying weapons and explosives and other dangerous materials through such passengers is higher than a normal passenger and, therefore, these passengers need to be checked with care ….. There is no scope for leniency in respect of invalid/disabled/sick persons during the pre-embarkation screening/procedures. On the contrary, there is ample reason to be more alert and wary.”
Recently, a private carrier had forced a passenger suffering from cerebral palsy to disembark from a flight at Kolkata airport as the airline felt she was not fit to fly. Such incidents and the disclosure of the safety norms under the RTI have brought to focus a call for revision of the safety norms for the physically disabled. As a civilised democracy, a system should be developed to ensure that disabled passengers are dealt with at the airport which fulfills the needs of safety without hurting their dignity. May be, the practices followed by other countries can be examined and adopted.