International para-athlete turned social worker Suvarna Raj on Sunday alleged that she was allotted an upper berth on a Nagpur-Delhi train even though she is physically handicapped.
The 34-year-old wheelchair-bound athlete was denied a berth convenient for people with disabilities in the Nagpur- Nizamuddin Garib Rath Express despite repeated requests. Suvarna Raj was allegedly forced to sleep on floor of a train. She has therefore, demanded to meet Minister of Railways Suresh Prabhu asking him to take cognizance on this matter.
Following para-athlete Suvarna Raj's allegation that she was forced to sleep on a train's floor, the Indian Railways on Sunday clarified that the medal-winning athlete already knew that she was booking an upper berth seat and that repeated attempts were made to shift her to a different seat.
Railway's Director General Public Relations Anil Saxena said that the Train Ticket Examiner of the Garibhrath Express immediately tried to help her when she raised the issue.
"The seats are known in advance so she chose to purchase those tickets and boarded the train. When she found it uncomfortable, she tried to reach out to the administration and in the middle of the night we received the information," Saxena said.
"Later the TTE of the train, upon the directions of Nagpur's DGCM, met her and understood her problem. He offered his own duty seat, however, she did not agree to move as it was far and declined the offer," he added.
The response from the officials came after the para-athlete turned social worker alleged that her appeal for a lower berth seat was turned down citing non availability of seats. This forced her to lie down on the floor of the compartment.
She claimed that while booking the ticket, she had indicated the railway officials that she was disabled. She was allotted a berth in coach number GD-2, reserved for disabled passengers. But when she boarded the coach, she saw that it was an upper berth.
Perturbed by the incident, Suvarna sought immediate action from Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu.
"I want to meet Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu and tell him about the problems we have to face while travelling in trains. Disabled people suffer a lot in trains," Raj said.
In response, Prabhu tweeted, "Have ordered enquiry in the issue.We are serious about ensuring smooth travel for Divyangs."