Indian Railways Treated Me Like Luggage: Virali Modi

This disabled woman's experience with Indian Railways shows we have a long way to go when it come to people with special needs

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Virali Modi is a model. She is also a motivational speaker and a writer. She is also wheelchair bound. She suffers from Transverse Myelitis, a condition where a person’s spinal cord is inflamed and nerves are damaged.

She is a former Miss Wheelchair India runner-up (2014) and has been a voice jockey at Mr Wheelchair India. But all that counted for nothing when she tried to travel by Indian Railways.

Read her horrific experience and her petition on Change.org:

I’ve been groped and manhandled three separate times by porters. They were helping me board the train because Indian trains are not wheelchair accessible. I am a disabled woman living in Mumbai who loves to travel.

I have had to wear a diaper because I couldn’t use the train bathroom. And when I needed to change that diaper, I had no privacy and had to wait for hours for the lights to go off at night

The railways treat the disabled as a piece of luggage. This needs to stop!

Sign my petition and join me in asking the railway minister and the Prime Minister to implement disabled friendly measures in Indian railways.

According to The Disability Rights bill, their need to be facilities available for those with disabilities. The Railway Ministry has been talking of making trains disabled friendly but in reality, we are still humiliated every single time because of poor implementation.

My fight is to ensure human dignity for the disabled. I am asking the authorities for some basic things everyone takes for granted-

Accessible bathrooms with proper space inside the bathroom, clean and higher toilets, low sinks so we can easily wash our hands. 

Accessible coaches for the disabled in all trains, ideally one for each class. Enough space between berths so it is easy to fit a standard size wheelchair between the berths and we can shift onto our seats when needed. 

Curtains around the berths for when we need to change. Often, I’ve needed to change my clothes and the berths are too small for me to roll around to change my clothes, as well as have no privacy.

Proper infrastructure to cross railroads if needed to change platforms.

Beside these infrastructure related demands, I also want an attitudinal shift in the way the disabled are treated:

Sensitise people to let those with disabilities board first as the general public normally does not care about our well-being. Everyone is in a rush to get to their seats.

Sensitise abled-bodied persons to not board the handicapped compartment, especially in local trains. We often see that in the local train, those who are not disabled will climb in. That isn’t fair.

Train the drivers and TCs to halt the train till a handicapped passenger has finished boarding, especially for local trains. The local train only stops for two minutes and with all the crowd, it is very difficult to board.

I want to sit down with PM Narendra Modi or the Railway Minister Mr. Suresh Prabhu and talk to them about the difficulties faced by those whom are disabled. Sign my petition and ask PM Modi and Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu to implement measures to make the Indian railways disabled friendly.

Is this how we are treating the differently abled now? And here I thought that 2017 was going to be a better year. The very first news that I read at the beginning of this year was how women were molested in Bengaluru. Then came the CCTV camera footage of two guys on a bike molesting and groping a women walking down the road.

It’s kept getting worse and now this. We support Virali Modi in her fight is to ensure human dignity for the disabled. If you feel the same, go ahead and sign the petition here.