Who isn’t aware of the not at all disabled-friendly Indian railways? But what happened yesterday is not just shameful but has also touched a new low!
Medal winning Indian para-athlete Suvarna Raj on Sunday alleged that she was forced to sleep on the floor of a train as she was denied a lower berth. She alleged that she was allotted an upper berth on the Nagpur-Nizamuddin Garib Rath Express even when she mentioned her disability while booking her tickets. As Suvarna’s repeated requests for a lower berth was ignored by the TTE and fellow passengers and she could not access the upper berth, she was forced to sleep on the floor of the train!
“I had a ticket in the differently abled coach but was allotted an upper berth. I had to sleep on the floor. There was no one to ask us if we wanted anything. I am not asking for international standards, just some that we, as humans, deserve,” Suvarna told to CNN-News 18. She even tweeted about her plight to the Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu.
— Suvarna Raj (@suvarnapraj) June 10, 2017
She was still on the train when she first spoke to the media over phone on Sunday morning. “It’s been more than 12 hours. I called the TTE 10 times. He never came. No one came to check the ticket also. I haven’t even been able to use the washroom,” she said. The train reached New Delhi’s Hazrat Nizammudin Station at 10:20 am today i.e. on Monday morning.
This incident outraged Suvarna’s fellow athletes who demanded an enquiry into the issue and action against the officials in charge. They also appealed to the Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on Twitter to look into the matter, after which Prabhu ordered an enquiry.
Have ordered enquiry in the issue.We are serious about ensuring smooth travel for Divyangs https://t.co/DWoHTRMnrQ
— Suresh Prabhu (@sureshpprabhu) June 11, 2017
“I don’t want any inquiry, I want a permanent solution for persons with disabilities,” Suvarna told to ANI in response to Prabhu’s tweet.
“Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu should travel in the coach for the disabled and understand the ground reality,” she added.
— Pradeep Raj (@PRdisabledpower) June 10, 2017
Wheelchair-bound Suvarna, who suffers 90% disability because of polio, had won two medals at the Thailand Para Table Tennis Open 2013 and participated in the Asian Para Games in South Korea. She currently runs an NGO that works for differently-abled people. She also fought the recent Delhi civic polls from north Delhi’s Begumpur area as a Swaraj India candidate but lost to the BJP candidate.
Gursharan Singh, vice-president of the Paralympics Committee of India, reacted to the report saying that he would take up the matter with the Railway Ministry.