Apathy by the senior officials has yet again forced Bengaluru’s pourakarmikas (civic workers) to stage a demonstration.
On October 12, Dalit pourakarmikas were allegedly sexually harassed and were greeted with casteist slurs by the KR Puram contractor Nagesh, when they had asked for their hard-earned wages. The wages had been due for the last three months, according to the workers.
But no action has been taken based on their complaint in the more than 10 days since then.
Pourakarmikas will now hold a protest at the BBMP headquarters on Wednesday over its inaction on sexual harassment allegations against the contractor.
Currently, Nagesh is absconding, but the pourakarmikas want Immediate cancellation of his work order and want him blacklisted for any work in the state.
“It’s in my pants, come and get it,” Nagesh had allegedly told the victims when they asked for their salary dues, and also threatened the workers with rape.
A complaint was then registered at the KR Puram Police Station and the BBMP Sexual Harassment Committee. The Karnataka Social Welfare Department were also intimated by the BBMP Gutteige Pourakarmika Sangha.
When the accused came to know about the police complaint against him, he allegedly gathered a few local thugs and attempted to threaten the civic workers on October 19. Two workers were injured after they were hit with iron rods.
The Sangha has been consistent on its demand for the abolition of the contractual payment of pourakarmikas which it says perpetuates violence against Dalit women.
“Casteist slurs are hurled at male pourakarmikas as well. Unless this exploitative contract system is removed, no real change can come about in the lives of pourakarmikas,” the Sangha said in its statement.
For many months now, thousands of pourakarmikas (contract workers employed by civic authorities) have been fighting to get their contracts regularized by the government.
Following multiple protests and demonstrations, the state government in 2016, had declared that all pourakarmikas will be brought under the government payroll within March 2017.But as of June 2017, only 5,500 out of 20,000 plus were made part of the BBMP payrolls.
A week after the incident, Mayor Sampath Raj had told TNM that the workers’ interest will be kept in mind and the contractor would be suspended if found guilty.