It is not every day that a whole village cries foul over a maintenance staff dying on duty. But, on Friday, hundreds of villagers in Mandya district decided that enough was enough and took to the streets in protest against the death of their beloved lineman Lingaraju. They pelted stones on the police and on an official of the electricity board, resulting in a lathicharge by the police.
Forty-two-year-old Lingaraju died of electrocution by a live transformer at Lokasara village in the district. This happened even after he had obtained a line clearance from the Chamundeshwari Electricity Supply Corporation (CESCOM), where he worked.
"The line clearance was done, but it was switched on 2 minutes after Lingaraju started work," said Sudheer Kumar Reddy, Mandya superintendent of police.
According to a reporter for a TV channel, who did not want to be named, this is the third such case in the district in the last one year.
Somashekar, a farmer from Aladahalli village told The News Minute that it was not just the negligence of the officials that the villagers were angry about, but also the lethargic attitude of the CESCOM officials, who, they say, did not show up for over two hours after they were informed of the death.
â€śThe life of sanitation workers, garbage collectors and even linemen are very undervalued by the officials, because there are thousands of others who can replace them. There will be thousands of other â€śLingarajusâ€ť if this cheap treatment of workers continues. Every life counts and a lower-level employeeâ€™s life should not be taken lightly,â€ť said Somashekar, who was one of the 600 protesters.
Somashekar had known Lingaraju for the last two years. He was the last person to meet the deceased lineman, who had gone to Aladahalli to attend to a complaint made by him earlier in the day.
He says that the reason why so many people were angry with the electricity board was because Lingaraju was known to be an honest, conscientious worker among the villagers.
"He attended to every complaint or problem on time and was unlike many other officials who demand a bribe to even speak to the complainant. Everyone valued and respected him for his honesty," said Somashekar. â€‹
â€śThere might be thousand others who can replace our lineman Lingaraju at his office, but no one can replace the love and respect that the villagers have for this man, who was an exception to the corrupt officials in the district,â€ť said Somashekar.
Sudheer Kumar said that a case has been registered for causing death by negligence on the CESCOM officials. However, he was not sure how many people were booked.
Watch video from the protest-