At IIMC 20 contractual Dalit safai karamcharis lose jobs
NOTE: The headline of this piece was changed on 18 October.
Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC) in Delhi has laid off more than 20 Dalit contractual workers. Those asked to not come in for work post 30 September includes a woman worker who was allegedly raped last year by an 'influential' IIMC clerk and her husband.
The safai karamcharis (sanitation workers) were fired without any prior notice and most of them had been working there for several years. They were told that the new contractor, brought on board on 1 October, had his own workers and they were no longer needed.
These workers and other sources allege that this mass removal was a ploy to get rid of the alleged-rape survivor and her husband (both safai karamcharis at IIMC), so that the rape accused (one Sagar Rana) could be brought back to the Delhi campus of the Institute.
IIMC Director KG Suresh denied the allegation that the workers had been removed to facilitate Rana's return. He said the safai karamcharis were not employees of IIMC, and it was completely the new contractor's decision to remove them.
"We have done everything transparently. We have taken due action against Rana. And we need to renew the contract every two years, which had been delayed this time. We give the contract to the lowest tenderer, and it is the contractor's job to get workers. The last contractor company did not have enough workers of their own, so they chose to retain these workers. This new contractor company has their own workers," said Suresh.
Rana, a Lower-Division-Clerk at the institute, was transferred to IIMC Jammu in July this year, following court orders in the case ruling that the complainant and the accused not be present on the same work premises.
However, Rana is said to exercise some clout because his father is the official driver of the secretary in the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B), under which the IIMC is an autonomous body.
The institute administration, including Suresh, attributed the loss of jobs to a "routine" change of the private contractor. But the workers refuted this by pointing out that contractors had been changed a couple of times over the years but no worker had lost his or her job.
In fact, private contractors were roped in as middlemen only in 2010. Before that, IIMC used to directly employ sanitation staff on a contractual basis, and many of the workers have been at the institute since those days.
Since 2010 up to September this year, the private contractor has been changed twice, but the workers had remained while being transferred from one contractor to the other, owing to an understanding between the IIMC administration and the contractors.