Engineer with cerebral palsy accuses Canadian embassy of mistreatment during visa process
Jasmina Khanna, a senior systems engineer working with the multinational company Syntel and a prominent figure in the field of disability rights, has accused the Canadian embassy in Mumbai of treating her with insensitivity during a visa application process.
Canadian embassy in Mumbai accused of apathy towards disabled
Khanna had applied for a visitor's visa in November this year to visit her sister, who is based in Canada for the last 17 years. She has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, and because of her condition, was asked to undergo medical tests.
In a letter to the Canadian embassy, Khanna has said that when she went to the CDC Medical Centre at Warden Road as suggested by the officials, she had a "horrifying experience", one that she least expected given Canada's reputation as "one of the most sensitive countries towards people with disability." She thought that the medical centres, recommended by the embassy would be accessible for a wheelchair user.
Medical centre not wheelchair accessible
Instead, she was in for a shock. "The entrance itself had 10-12 stairs with no ramp. I had to be physically carried up. None of the rooms at the centre were accessible either as the doors were so narrow that my wheelchair could not be wheeled inside, except for the physician's cabin."
That was not the end of it. Khanna was expected to give a urine sample at the centre, but the washrooms were not wheelchair accessible. She had to use a gents' washroom because the ladies' washroom was further inside and carrying her was difficult given the narrow confines.
The insensitivity extended to the testing as well. Khanna says she was asked to do a lung X-ray twice even though the room was not accessible. She had to be carried both times.
To her further distress, the doctor wanted proof that she had cerebral palsy from birth, but refused to accept the disability certificate that was issued by the All India Institute of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, which is recognised by the government of India.
In her letter, Khanna poignantly says that the experience has left her hurt in every way. She has been asked to go to a cardiologist for a check up, but she refuses to go.
"It is a matter of my dignity and self respect. I may be physically challenged, but I am a human too. All I wanted was a tourist visa to visit your beautiful country" - Jasmina Khanna
Khanna has forwarded her letter to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as well. She says she wants to make sure that no other disabled person goes through a similar experience.
"I do not wish any other physically challenged person who has applies for a Canadian visa goes through the same trauma that I have gone through"
Her experience is yet another instance of the apathy and insensitivity that the disabled in India continue to face, even in one of the more progressive cities of the country.
Read this NewzHook special on Jasmina Khanna