Differently-abled allege unfair treatment by Railway Officials

Say they were made to go to Tirur station six times to book train tickets

PALAKKAD: A group of differently-abled persons who tried to book train tickets from the Tirur railway station last week has alleged that they were given a raw deal by Railway officials. The wheelchair-bound persons said they were made to go to the booking station six times before they could book tickets using the concession they were eligible for. Their applications were rejected by the Railway officials on various grounds even as they were made to run pillar to post.

The group had tried to book AC Chair Car tickets on the Jan Shatabdi Express to Thiruvananthapuram for November 12. But, the tickets were overbooked by the time they had produced the “final correct form” as directed by the officials. “AC tickets were available on the first five days that we went to the station to book tickets. By the time the officials cleared our application, they had been booked. We were seeking AC Chair Car tickets not because we are rich, but because many of us have bedsores,” said Basheer Mamburam, district president of the All Kerala Wheelchair Rights Federation (AKWRF).

Mr. Mamburam, who went to the station six times braving several hurdles including the lack of a ramp at the booking station, said the officials would not have treated them so callously had they any concern for the disabled.

Eight wheelchair users and 13 aides were to go to Thiruvananthapuram from different parts of Malappuram district to attend the maiden State conference of the AKWRF scheduled for November 13 and 14.

‘Forms rejected’

Mr. Basheer said although the station master and some booking officials had showed great care, they were made to travel six times to book tickets. “They rejected our forms on different occasions saying such reasons as it lacked the register number of the government doctor who certified our disability, it lacked the counter signature on a minor spelling correction, and it lacked certificates in original,” he said.

“On one occasion they told us that we needed to keep the concession and medical certificates given by the government doctor during our journey and that they were not needed while booking. Later they rejected our applications saying that we ought to produce the certificates at the time of booking,” said Mr. Basheer.

Mr. Basheer has complained to District Collector Amit Meena who assured him that the matter would be taken up with the Railway higher-ups at the divisional level. He said he would also send a memorandum to the Union Railway Minister.

Railway booking officials at Tirur refused to go on record, but said they had acted in accordance with the Railway booking rules.