A visually impaired M.Phil. aspirant, named Vaibhav Shukla could not sit for the entrance exam on Wednesday after he missed his train at Unnao when the people in the coach reserved for people with disabilities did not open the door for him.
The student had opted to travel by the Gorakhdham Express and accordingly reached Unnao station around 2:15 am on 5 July. However, when he went to the coach reserved for the disabled, he found the doors locked. His brother and the driver tried to open it, but to no avail.
The people inside the train compartment did not open the door, despite the driver asking them to. Since the stoppage was only for two minutes, Shukla could not make it to the second coach for the disabled that was at the other end of the train. He ended up missing the train.
Once in Delhi, Shukla who is 100% visually impaired told the Delhi University authorities about his plight, but the varsity officials said that they could not do anything now.
In response to the incident, the Delhi High Court said there were “special needs of every nature of disability which the railways have to take into consideration” and asked the Centre the types of provisions that were in place currently. It also asked the authorities to file a disability-wise status report in the next ten days.
Additionally, a bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar initiated a public interest litigation (PIL) on the event, asking DU to reconsider its stance by 11 July and see whether they can give Shukla a chance to appear in the examination. The bench also brought up the point of compensation for Shukla and just action against the abled people who were misusing the reserved compartment on the day.
This incident not only highlights the insensitivity of people towards the disabled and the presence of arbitrary rules, but also questions the logic of placing the two coaches for the disabled at extreme ends of the train. In the past there have been similar instances where people hijack the reserved coaches. The government should take cognisance of this and appoint a guard to open the compartment doors at stations.
Feature Image Credits: The Times of India