An 11-year-old autistic boy was prevented from boarding a flight at Bangalore by Central Industrial Security Force personnel who said he could harm other passengers.
The boy's father, Tamil actor Prithviraj, has condemned the 'insensitiveness' of the security personnel and stressed the need for greater awareness about autism, which afflicts an estimated two million people in the country.
"I want to make this issue a big one. We will make use of the publicity to see at least some good comes out of it so that people are more aware of autism or any such problem and are sensitive about it," Prithviraj told PTI.
Facing media criticism, the CISF ordered a probe into the incident even as the union social justice ministry said it plans to write to airport authorities to sensitise security personnel on dealing with people 'different from others'.
Video footage of the incident, filmed by Prithviraj, showed the CISF personnel telling him last Thursday that his son Ahed could not board the Bangalore-Chennai flight as he was 'mentally unstable'.
"I asked them what the rule is, but they simply kept telling me there is a rule. They seemed to be unaware of what it was," Prithviraj said, adding the personnel told him that the rules had been in force since 1937.
The CISF personnel refused to budge in spite of being told the boy has a disability and not a disease. Ahed was allowed to board the flight only after the airline intervened.
"This happened on a few occasions earlier but we have not been disallowed from boarding a flight. I have travelled all over the world," Prithviraj said.