ACTIVIST RECALLS ABUSE meted out to him by railway staff who barged into disabled compartment, on a recent journey

Activist and clinical psychotherapist T.M.N. Deepak had to bear the brunt of deliberate insensitivity to persons with disabilities, recently.

Recounting the story, he said, travelling on the Pallavan Express to Tiruchy recently, he encountered railway staff members who ridiculed his disability and used foul language against him.

All for telling a group of 8 to 10 railway staff, reportedly wearing the SRMU badge, and without a seeming disability, who barged in, that the coach was reserved for the disabled. Apparently, in their conception, the disability coach is usually located next to the engine, and since in this particular train, it was not, they refused to accept the fact it was reserved. They also went beyond this, and abused the disabled people in the coach. When Deepak approached the railway police, he was asked to come to Chennai and prefer a complaint, which he did subsequently.

Despite all the talk of awareness and being sensitive to the issues surrounding people with disabilities, sometimes members of the community are left fuming with rage at the treatment meted out to them, and a staggering sense of the work still to be done.

At a recent interaction with a professor at IIT-Madras on modernisation of rail transport, when the talk veered towards traffic discipline, the professor said the traffic police must take stringent action against violators.

Describing his experience in foreign countries, where it is believed vehicle users follow traffic rules to the book, he said, given an opportunity, those people too would violate rules.

The reporter was mystified, as only a few weeks ago, a senior traffic police officer had said that unless road users themselves change for the better, traffic violations and accidents could not be prevented.

***

A commuter who reached his office on Anna Salai in an autorickshaw last week was in for a gentle shock. The commuter handed over two 50 paise coins to the driver as part of his fare for his journey.

“Sir please give me a Re. 1 coin,” said the auto driver, much to the surprise of the commuter. “No one accepts 50 paise coins these days,” the driver added.

The commuter changed his 50 paise coins for a Re.1 coin from a pavement vendor and handed it over the driver.

(Reporting by Ramya Kannan, R. Srikanth and K. Manikandan)

More In: Chennai | Columns