Man confined to wheelchair alleges harassment by Air India, airlines rejects charges
Kaushik Majumdar, a professor in Bengaluru, has alleged that he was harassed and stopped from boarding a flight by Air India staff. The differently-abled man who is confined to a wheelchair was to board a flight from Bengaluru international airport. Air India, however, has rejected his accusations.
Majumdar is confined to a wheelchair with 85 per cent orthopaedic disability. He uses an electronic wheelchair that is battery operated- the crux of the tiff between Majumdar and the airline's staff. "When I was about to board the flight, ground staff asked me to disconnect the battery of my wheelchair. I did as asked but Air India staff was not satisfied and asked me to remove the wiring connected to the battery. I told them I can't remove that since this is a complex mechanism and I can't reconnect them," Majumdar said recalling the incident. He went on to allege that the staff remained adamant and refused to let him board the flight.
Air India, however, has rejected Majumdar's allegations. In a press statement issued after Majumdar approached the media, the airline has accused the passenger of refusing to conform to safety guidelines. "The passenger was informed by the counter staff at the check-in counter that the battery operated wheelchair is not permitted inside the aircraft and accordingly offered a wheelchair.
At that time the passenger agreed to remove the battery at the boarding gate. After reaching the boarding gate AI official spoke to him about the need to remove the battery, however, the passenger refused to disconnect the battery. The same was informed to the commander of the flight and since the passenger was not agreeing to disconnect the battery he could not be accommodated on the flight. Air India strictly follows the laid down procedures and regulations regarding passenger safety," a statement from Air India read.