‘Turned A Deaf Ear”: Asian Para Medallist Alleges Mistreatment By IndiGo

Para-athlete Suvarna Raj, who has represented the country in global events, on Saturday accused the IndiGo airline crew of ‘mistreatment’, saying she requested the carrier to provide her a personal wheelchair at the aircraft door but the staff did not respond. Suvarna alleged that she was mistreated by IndiGo crew members while taking a flight from New Delhi to Chennai. Suvarna had booked seat number 39D(Aisle) on the Chennai-bound flight on Friday.

Speaking to ANI on Saturday, the para-athlete said, “The airlines have been courting infamy with such incidents time and time again. Whenever I board a flight, I make it a point to request the crew members for a personal wheelchair at the aircraft door. I did it a thousand times before. However, on numerous occasions, I did not get a wheelchair at the aircraft door. Why? Whenever I asked for my wheelchair at the aircraft door, the crew would say, ‘Yes ma’am’. However, there was no wheelchair except the one in the cabin,” Suvarna told ANI.

She also frowned on the ‘attitude’ and indifference of crew members, saying, “I told them 10 times that I wanted my personal wheelchair at the aircraft door, but no matter how many times I asked them, they seemed to turn a deaf ear. Yesterday, the three managers came and told me that there is a policy of providing wheelchairs at the aircraft door. Then why wasn’t I provided with one?”

“I have raised concern and lodged a complaint with the airport authorities. The day before yesterday, a security staffer asked my friend, who also happens to be wheelchair-bound, to rise from the chair for a check. She was asked to stand not just once but thrice. My friend said she couldn’t but the crew member kept asking her to stand up saying, ‘You can stand up.’ Where has the sensitivity of people gone? We are gunning for smart cities when what we need are smart and sensitive minds. I wished to come out in the media against this mistreatment. Please be a little more sympathetic to the problems of specially-abled people,” Raj said.

She claimed that the personal wheelchair, which cost Rs 3 lakh, was damaged by the airline crew.

“My wheelchair was damaged. It cost me Rs 3 lakh. Indigo should pay for the damage to my wheelchair and I want it to be restored to its old state. If the airlines have a policy to provide wheelchairs to differently-abled patients, why do they break protocol time and time again? The government should take strict action and check why such incidents are happening so often,” Suvarna said.

Suvarna won two medals in the 2014 Asian Para Games in Korea while also clinching two medals at the Thailand Para Table Tennis Open in 2013.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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