MALAKKAPPARA: The systemic bias against differently-abled persons hit a new low in the district when a group of disabled persons was sent back, not once, but five times by officers at the Tirur railway station as they came to book tickets.Their request was turned down citing errors in the application form and lack of valid identity proof. The group which approached the station for a concession for the first time on October 19, got the tickets only on October 25.
A complaint lodged with District Collector Amit Meena alleges they were turned down citing flimsy reasons. “The booking clerks here found ‘errors’ in our application and sent us back instead of helping us rectify it. Once we were sent back for not countersigning the document,” says Basheer Mamburam, a member of the group.They arrived here to book tickets to Thiruvananthapuram to attend a conference for specially-abled persons on November 13 and 14. While the group came with normal forms, the officers here reportedly told them to bring bulk booking forms.
“They didn’t tell us about the new concession forms. We approached them with forms downloaded from the Railways website and they rejected it,” said Basheer. “Though I arrived at the station before 8 pm on October 21, they told us we were late and the system was logged out. But they took the form from a person standing right in front of me in the queue,” Basheer said. He said they could have easily completed the process if the officers gave them proper guidance.
“They even verbally abused us when we protested. We said it was hard to reach the ticket counter as it had no ramps. One lady officer shouted at us asking whether our houses or cars had ramps,” he said.
While the group approached the station manager seeking help, he washed his hands of the matter saying it was not his responsibility to deal with such issues. When contacted, station master K Varghese reiterated his earlier stand saying he is not the designated person to address their grievance.
DISTRICT COLLECTOR SEEKS ACTION FROM RAILWAYS
District Collector Amit Meena has sent a fax to Railways Divisional Manager Naresh Lalwani seeking action against the officers. “I have sought stringent action,” he said. Additional Divisional Railway Manager T Rajkumar said he will seek an explanation from the officers at the Tirur railway station.
AKWRF TO APPROACH RIGHTS PANEL
The All Kerala Wheelchair Rights Federation (AKWRF) has decided to approach the Kerala State Human Rights Commission (KSHRC) seeking action on the issue. State general secretary Jomy John Joseph said the federation will soon take steps in this regard. “The officers failed to extend a humanitarian approach towards us. Besides, they harassed us using indecent language,” he said. The AKWRF had even sent a complaint to the Prime Minister and Railway Minister seeking action against the officers.