Mumbai: Suranjana Ghosh Aikara, who is an above the knee amputee, was asked to take off her prosthetic leg, which required her to strip, at Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport for security check. Suranjana was told that the metal detectors would be set off by the metal components of her artificial leg and therefore she is required to take off her prosthetic leg.
Suranjana claimed she was forced to spend a harrowing half an hour convincing and arguing with the security staff, after which they finally agreed to conduct a physical frisking. She added that she underwent a similar situation in 2011 at the Indira Gandhi International Airport.
“I was flying out on the morning on July 5 with my mother from Mumbai to Delhi. We had to undergo the standard security checks at the airport. The checks are not standard for me because I am an artifical leg user, an above the knee amputee. What I usually do is I carry a lot of documentation which is my Government of India disability certificate. It has a graphic photo ID which shows the extend of my amputation. I carry letters from my prosthetic leg manufacturer and my press ID card. So, I handed over all that documentation and I told the lady who was going to do the security check that this is an artifical leg, so your metal decactor are going to be set off by this. She didn’t even look at the documents and said you need to remove this as it needs to go through the scanner. I resisted and said I won’t allow you to do that because I can’t stand without it to which she said no,” Suranjana said describing the incident.
According to the guidelines of Bureau of Civil Aviation Security of India (BCAS), the CISF personnel are responsible for scanning at the airport and can ask for an amputee to get the prosthetics checked for security purpose. This is done to ensure that no explosives or illegal objects are hidden inside the prosthetics.
An Explosive Trace detector (ETD) test machine is available at all airports but that detects only explosives. If anything has been concealed the CISF personnel will have to request a thorough check of the prosthetics.
While the CISF claims all personnel deployed at the airports are sensitized to people with special needs, at times people do complain about the process.
The situation, however, differs in the US as there the passengers can be screened without being asked to remove the prostheses. A passenger can choose whether he or she wants to remove the prosthetic or not.
In the US, the passenger is required to inform the Transportation Security Officer (TSO) of the existence of a prosthetic, his or her ability, and of any need for assistance before screening begins.
Passengers can use TSA’s Notification Card to communicate discreetly with security officers. However, showing this card or other medical documentation will not exempt a passenger from additional screening when necessary.
Passengers with prostheses can be screened using imaging technology, metal detector, or a thorough pat down. Regardless of whether a passenger is screened by a metal detector, imaging technology or a thorough pat down, a prosthetic is subject to additional screening.
An officer will need to see the prosthetic, which may require the lifting of clothing without exposing any sensitive areas or removing a belt that holds the prosthetic to the passenger’s body. TSA also will use technology to test the prosthetic for traces of explosive material. If explosive material is detected, the passenger will have to undergo additional screening. If a passenger voluntarily removes his or her prosthetic during screening, it will be screened by X-ray.