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Air India Faces Backlash After Wheelchair Bound Passenger Denied Boarding

© REUTERS / Pascal RossignolAir India Airlines Boeing 787 (File)
Air India Airlines Boeing 787 (File) - Sputnik International
A person with an orthopedic disorder was allegedly harassed by Air India - India’s state-owned airliner, which asked him to dismantle the wires of his battery operated wheelchair. Since neither he nor the airline staff would have been able to put the mechanism back together, he chose not to fly.

New Delhi (Sputnik) — Kaushik Majumdar, a researcher at Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata, was allegedly not allowed to board his flight from Bangalore to Kolkata despite having a valid boarding pass and clearing all security checks. He claimed that Air India staff members stopped him just before he was about to board a plane and asked him to remove the batteries from his wheelchair, which he did. But the airline staff did not stop at that. He was asked to dismantle all the wires connecting his wheelchair to the batteries, which Majumdar says was not possible for him. 

"I was told that I have to remove the battery from my wheelchair and shift to a non-electrical wheelchair, which I did. But despite disconnecting the battery of the wheelchair, the staff said that all the wires connected to the battery had to be removed. Now that was completely impossible for me because there are many wires and removing them and putting them back is an expert's job," Majumdar told a local news agency.

Majumdar's allegations have created furor among the public with some venting their ire on social media.

Air India has denied the allegations stating that the passenger was told in advance that his battery-operated wheelchair would not be allowed on board as such devices pose security challenges. 

"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," Air India said in a statement.

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