Ambedkar University reinstates 53 sanitation people but allegations of casteism persist

On the closing day of May, 53 sanitation employees have been unceremoniously dismissed from their jobs at the three campuses of the Ambedkar University in Delhi. Some of those workers had been employed at the AUD for almost a decade; all were given notice of mere hours. The employees were hired through Sulabh International, a non-earnings enterprise that has been feted by way of the United Nations for its work on sanitation. The AUD ostensibly let them pass in favour of a less expensive contractor, a private firm named Bhagwati International. In early June, the sanitation employees commenced protesting at the university’s Kashmere Gate campus. Students from enterprises such as the Students Federation of India, the student wing of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), and the Progressive and Democratic Students Community and the Dalit and Bahujan Adivasi Collective—pupil organisations of AUD—supported the protest. The Krantikari Yuva Sangathan, a adolescents business enterprise that works for the rights of marginalised sections of society and the Safai Karamchari Union, a union of sanitation employees, also joined the protests.

The sanitation people demanded that they are reinstated, given permanent jobs and employed immediately using the AUD, and accused the college and its professors of caste discrimination. They, in particular singled out Lokesh Garg, the university’s deputy registrar, for what the people described as “blatant casteism.” The protests endured until 6 June to no avail, and six days later, they met the Aam Aadmi Party leader Gopal Rai, who’s the labour minister of Delhi. After persisted negotiations between the management and the people—with help from the student organisations and SKU—on thirteen June, the AUD eventually relented and reinstated all the employees who have been allowing move. The settlement with Bhagwati International become also cancelled.

While the employees’ contracts have now been renewed, the issues that they raised at some point of their protests continue to be unaddressed. Anshu Singh, the spokesperson for AUD, instructed me that “all the team of workers have been working on outsourcing basis” by using Broadcast Engineering Consultant India Limited, a central authority business enterprise that provides consultancy offerings. Singh did now not have any statistics on whether or not the workers were rehired on an everlasting or a contractual basis and what benefits would they obtain. The workers had additionally demanded the constitution of a committee comprising professors, students and two people to independently check the expenses of caste discrimination towards Garg. When I asked her if the university might take any movement on the court cases towards Garg, Singh informed me that “no formal complaint changed into ever received inside the University,” so there has been no doubt of reprimanding him. Garg has, however, been divested of his fee of the estate’s division—an administrative unit of the college which manages services inside the campus and supervises all the people. Sunny, a 35-12 months-vintage who supervises the sanitation employees, instructed me that “there are rumours he is going to be transferred to some other campus in the identical college.”
The protests commenced on three June, while the sanitation workers and participants of the scholar businesses, accrued on the AUD’s Kashmere Gate campus, out of doors the workplace of the vice-chancellor, Anu Singh Lather. Three days earlier, the workforce had all arrived in the morning, handiest to be advised that it might be their final day at paintings. Anita, one of the workers, was shocked by using how surprising the termination changed into and the way the AUD gave them no time to search for different jobs. “How are we imagined to pay payments?” she stated. The college students and workers sat outdoor the office, and raised slogans, along with, “Hum Apna Adhikaaar Maangte, Hum Kisi Se Bheekh Nahi Maangte”—We are soliciting for our rights, we aren’t begging.

The people’ number one demand changed into that their employees must be secure, and they must be dealt with dignity. At the protest, Sunny’s consistent chorus became, “Jo safari ka kaam hai wo Roz ka hota hai. Agar ye came permanent hai, to activity everlasting kyu Nahi hai?”—The work of cleansing is daily. If the paintings are everlasting, why isn’t the task permanent too? Chaitanya, a doctoral scholar and a member of the PDSC, also raised the difficulty that the AUD’s decision to no longer supply permanent status to sanitation workers “was casteist in itself.”

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