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Para athlete forced to sleep on train floor

Suvarna Raj was allotted an upper berth on a Delhi-Nagpur train.

Suvarna Raj was allotted an upper berth on a Delhi-Nagpur train.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Railway Minister orders probe

Medal-winning Indian para-athlete Suvarna Raj on Sunday alleged that she was allotted an upper berth on the Nagpur-Nizamuddin Garib Rath Express despite having mentioned her disability when booking her tickets. As she could not access the berth and her request for a lower berth was ignored by the TTE and fellow passengers, she was forced to sleep on the floor of the train.

Taking serious note of the incident, Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has ordered an inquiry.

Ms. Raj, however, said she wanted “permanent solutions”.

“I want Mr. Prabhu to travel with me and see for himself the problems that differently-abled people face in a train,” Ms. Raj told The Hindu.

Recalling her ordeal, the wheelchair-bound athlete said though she had requested the TTE to allot her a lower berth, she got no response from him.

“I boarded the train at 8:45 p.m. on Saturday and was allotted an upper berth. I requested the TTE multiple times for a change of berth, but to no avail. He then disappeared. My co-passengers also did not seem interested in helping me. Eventually, I was forced to spend the night on the floor,” said Ms. Raj, who suffers 90% disability due to polio.

Ms. Raj said she had been her denied basic rights as a human being. “I just wanted to have a safe and clean travel with dignity. I did not ask for international standards here. Basic human courtesy would be fine,’’ she says.

Ms. Raj has won two medals at the Thailand Para Table Tennis Open 2013 and participated in the Asian Para Games in South Korea.

Mr. Prabhu tweeted: “(I) have ordered enquiry in the issue. We are serious about ensuring smooth travel for Divyangs (a term the National Democratic Alliance government uses for the physically challenged).”

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Printable version | Feb 22, 2020 9:58:48 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/para-athlete-forced-to-sleep-on-train-floor/article18961314.ece

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