India's Kolkata Airport has apologised to a party of disability activists who were subjected to demeaning requests by security screening staff.

Kuhu Das, whose childhood polio has forced her to wear metal callipers on her legs, was shocked when security screening staff told her to remove them to pass through security.

Her colleague and fellow activist Jeeja Ghosh, who has cerebral palsy and must travel in a wheelchair, was told she could not fly unaccompanied.

The pair who were travelling to Delhi for a conference on disabled women's rights, said they felt "insulted and humiliated."


Talking to the BBC Das explained she had been wearing the metal leg callipers for years.
She told the broadcaster that she was told to remove her trousers, and that the leg braces would have to be put through the scanner.

"When I refused [to take them off], she called another officer and right in front of me, she told her colleague that she had never seen anyone like me before. It was like I had come from another planet. How insensitive is that?"

Das said she had never had such a problem before.

"It is unacceptable that every time in India, they want me to take off my callipers which effectively means they are asking me to take off my trousers," she said.

When her colleague was told she would not be able to fly it added insult to injury for the rights activists.

"Jeeja is an adult" and has had no problem travelling alone until this point, Ms Das said.
Having been apologised to by ground staff at the check-in counter, they said this missed the point.

"It's not an individual problem. It's how an airline treats a person with disability."

Kolkata airport responded to the incident issuing a statement on twitter apologising for the "inconvenience caused to Ms Jeeja Ghosh & Ms Kuhu Das during check-in process" saying they were working to make sure a similar incident "does not happen again".


According to the Hindustan Times, the Indian CISF issued provisions two years ago for disabled passengers to remain in wheelchairs and keep prosthetic limbs for airport security screening.

However, it seems these rules from 2017 are still to filter down into the practice of security teams at airports and railways.

India, with a population of 1.3 billion has 26 million people living with a recognised physical or learning disability.