Dear Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu

I have concerns, sir. I’m a disabled US citizen living with an OCI in Mumbai, India. When I first came to India, I had to travel via train to Delhi. It was my first experience traveling as a disabled woman in India. I was extremely excited and worried at the same time because I knew that India wasn’t fully wheelchair accesible, like the US.

Upon reaching the train station, where the ramps were broken and bumpy, I finally reached the platform from where I was to board my train. I kept looking around thinking that there would be a ramp to board the train, but there wasn’t. I had to be physically carried inside the compartment into my seat, all while being manhandled. This has happened three separate times. I was carried and lifted by porters, with no safety measures because there aren’t any ramps or lifts to get into a train safely.

This has happened between the years 2008-2014. I’ve been reluctant to travel in trains because like any other woman, I do not like being manhandled by grown men. It’s a shame that this happens in our day and age. It’s also pointless to file a complaint because I have no proof of the manhandling except my scarred mentality.

Upon hearing the news about The Tejas Express and the great work that you do to help out our population, I was intrigued to see if there were any facilities for those with physical disabilities. Upon reading the article, I was surprised that there were facilities for those with visual impairment. I applaud you for that. Yet, I’m disheartened that there aren’t any facilities for those with physical disabilities.

I’m sure you must be knowing, India is a country where 2.1% of the population is disabled in some way or form, according to the consensus report in 2001. It’s 2017 now, I’m sure that number has doubled now. It’s sad that the disabled population is almost always overlooked.

In late 2016, The Disability Rights Bill 2016 was passed, creating immense joy among the population. Isn’t it our right to use ‘public’ transportation? Why should we spend X number of money in traveling via plane when we can easily travel in a train, if made accessible?

Sir, I request you, please look into this matter. Please give us our rights back. We are fully entitled to use the trains provided by our government. This also includes the public trains that run locally throughout Mumbai and in other metropolitan cities.

Happy New Year, sir. Let’s make 2017 disabled friendly. Jai Hind.

Regards,
Virali Modi

Also read: The Plight Of A Person with Disability In The Gareeb Rath Train

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