Disabled man accuses Air India of discrimination
A disabled man has accused an Air India pilot of ‘humiliating’ him and denying him boarding a flight from Bengaluru to Kolkata. Kaushik Kumar Majumdar, who works at the Indian Statistical Institute, was arrested by the pilot of AI-748 Bengaluru-Kolkata flight which was due to take off for Kolkata at 2:40 a.m.
Mr Majumdar says the pilot asked him to disconnect the batteries from his electric wheelchair even as he tried to explain why it was impossible for him to do so. He alleges that he was humiliated and denied boarding while other passengers were allowed to board the plane.
“I was prevented from boarding by the Air India pilot. They asked me to disconnect the battery of my wheelchair and only then board, and after putting me through the ordeal for more than ‘one hour, I finally wasn’t allowed on the flight,’ he said.
Mr Majumdar, a professor at the Indian Institute of Statistics, Bengaluru, says he has been flying Air India since 2009 and has flown at least 25 times. This time he had a scheduled appointment with his doctor and an important meeting at the Indian Statistical Institute in Kolkata which he missed due to the pilot’s “inhuman behaviour”, he said.
“I feel humiliated. Everyone was cleared and I was not allowed to board. I was made to wait indefinitely. I did not receive a response from Air India staff. repeatedly asked the same question. On 8th November 2021 from Kolkata to Bangalore. I have always faced such issues only at Bangalore airport,” he added.
This is the second time Mr Majumdar has been prevented from boarding an Air India flight.
“Mr. Suresh Kumar, one of the employees, explained to the pilot Mr. Sandeep Marwaha that I had been traveling on Air India flights for the longest time. However, I was repeatedly asked about the number of batteries in my wheelchair. He was very aggressive and not even wanting to understand my condition,” the passenger said.
When asked why the passenger chose only Air India and not other airlines, he replied: “I was forced to do this before the privatization of Air India. Otherwise my office would not reimburse. Now we are free to take any airline.The reason I take Air India is that they have free Ambu lift.On other flights they charge for Ambu lift.The interpretation of the rule is the problem. Some employees allow passengers in wheelchairs, while others don’t. t. It’s ridiculous,” he said.
In December 2017, Mr Majumdar alleged he had been harassed by Air India ground staff and not allowed to board his flight to Kolkata.