Disability rights activist Rajiv Rajan in Tiruchi on Friday.

Staff say they were apprehensive that bed would be soiled

A wheel-chair bound human rights activist afflicted by severe cerebral palsy was denied accommodation in a city hotel late on Thursday night by the front office staff citing his disability.

The activist, Rajiv Rajan, executive director of Chennai-based Ektha, had to face the ordeal even though he had a valid booking, made online, for a room at the hotel. The room rent of ₹3,500 was refunded to Mr. Rajan by the staff of Anbu Park Hotel situated opposite the District Collectorate, on the ground that “he will soil the bed” in the absence of an assistant.

The hotel staff allegedly ignored the pleas of Mr. Rajan, 44, who was here to promote the paralympic sports of Boccia at The Spastics Society of Tiruchirapalli, and his driver for 10-years Amarnath, 37, that they have been travelling together all over the country with the latter as the helper .

The hotel staff reportedly kept insisting on the presence of an assistant, claiming that the booking had been made through ‘Make My Trip’ App for three persons. At about midnight, the duo subsequently checked into a hotel close to the Central Bus Stand where they were treated in a friendly way.

Mr. Rajan, who has 80% disability, told The Hindu that the “rude behaviour”of the staff of the hotel was wounding and he had the bitter experience for the first time during his extensive travel within the country and abroad over the past 25 years as a human rights activist. “This predicament must not befall others in a similar condition in future,” Mr. Rajan, who had, in recent years, conducted accessibility audit of disabled-friendly facilities in the Chennai International Airport and at polling booths at the time of elections, said.

The manager of Anbu Park Hotel, Mohamed, however, denied the charge of rude behaviour, saying: “We did refund the money, but not before making attempts to determine if there was a full-time assistant in addition to the driver, and if they had a bedpan. Our contention was that a person with multiple disabilities required the help of two persons.”

Mr. Mohamed charged that the approach of Mr. Rajan and his driver was “confrontationist.” He, however, acknowledged that the staff had indeed raised apprehensions on the bed getting soiled, citing a similar experience the hotel had gone through in recent months of a disabled customer.

District Differently Abled Welfare Officer N. Swaminathan said the department, after receiving a formal complaint from the aggrieved person, would seek an explanation from the hotel on its failure to conform to the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, that bestows equal opportunitieshttp://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/hotel-denies-room-to-activist-with-disability/article20547380.ece