A sanitation worker was found hanging at his residence in Uttar Pradesh's Noida, in a case of a suspected suicide, police said on Thursday. The deceased identified as Anil lived in Morna village with his family, which alerted the police around 10 pm on Wednesday regarding the death.
Ram Nath, Anil's Uncle, told the media that he was one of the 400-500 workers who had received his termination letter from the contractor, and was disturbed after losing his job.
"On Monday, he received a letter from his contractor informing that his services were being terminated with effect from September 15. Anil was very upset. He called up his wife Sushma and said he didn't know how he would raise his six children," Nath as quoted by the media.
The family alleged that the police beat Anil. They also said that after his death, the police did not allow anyone inside his room, and the family was made to sit in a bus to Meerut immediately after the post mortem. Ensuring the family doesn't return to Noida, two police vehicles followed the bus in which the family was travelling.
The family of the 35-year-old deceased alleges that he lost his job because he was the part of the protest that has been staged by hundreds of sanitation workers. Sanitation workers have been protesting outside the Authority office in Sector 6, Noida. The family accused the Noida Authority of harassment.
However, the Authority officials said Anil had died due to 'personal reasons'. Later, SC He was a worker of the contractor, and not the Authority, and his services were terminated because he was not turning up for the work, they added.
Speaking to The Indian Express, the victim's wife Sushma Kumari said that her husband had called her to discuss his job loss, and sounded stressed. "I never imagined he would do something like this. I have six children, the eldest is 11," she added.
Since the beginning of September, contractual sanitation workers have been protesting against the contract system of Noida Authority, stating that contractors are nowhere to be seen on the ground.
The workers continued protests after the colleague's death, demanding permanent employment. The protest was joined by Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad on Saturday.
Azad, along with scores of workers outside the office demanded an investigation into the matter, saying that it is as important as the case of Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput. They also demanded the authorities to provide Anil's family with compensation and one government job to sustain a basic livelihood.
Other concerns raised by the workers include pay disparity and alleged mistreatment by contractors. Vinod Valmiki, one of the workers, told the media that he has been victim to such situations frequently.
"I have been working as a sanitation worker for 30 years now. But I am among those who get paid ₹11,700. If we voice our concerns, our contractor threatens to fire us. There is no formal contract. This is why we wish to be recognized as government employees."
Azad said that sanitation workers are not paid equally, despite the work being the same, and this is the reason they are not able to feed their families and educate their children.
"They are divided into four categories – government employees who earn ₹40,000; a second layer that receives ₹17,000; the third receives ₹11,700; and the fourth category that receives ₹7,000. The work is the same but the salaries are not. Further, corrupt contractors do not even pay the entire amount. This is why workers are unable to run their homes and educate their children."
Noida Authority's head, Praveen Mishra informed that Anil was working for a company called MSW on contract basis. The company is taking steps to compensate the family and employ two family members.
In response to the ongoing protests, Mishra said the officials have had discussions with the workers previously and are doing their best possible. One of their demands was a salary increase, which the authority is ready to increase but there seems to be some kind of miscommunication.