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Dalit sanitation workers at DU say they lost job for speaking out

A group of Dalit sanitation workers, who worked at a Delhi University hostel, has been sitting on a protest for nearly a month alleging that they were removed from their jobs after they approached the SC/ST Commission over alleged misbehaviour of their supervisor.

University officials said the contract with the private company that employed these workers got over after which another company was given the work.

Ten workers, who worked at the Under Graduate Hostel for Girls (UGHG), approached the commission last year after facing harassment from their supervisor, who allegedly made casteist remarks while addressing them. The supervisor was removed from her job in November.

“The supervisor used to refer to our caste and make derogatory remarks. We first complained to the provost but no action was taken after which we approached the commission. In November, the supervisor was removed,” said Manju, one of the sanitation workers.

“The provost said that approaching the commission is not going to go to do any good. When we came on January 1, the guard said he has a list of 10 names who won’t be allowed inside. Ten of us who had approached the commission were not retained while six others were allowed to resume work,” she said.

However, officials said that the university had no role in hiring and firing of sanitation workers. “Sanitation workers are employed by a contractor, and in this case, by Sulabh International. Hiring and firing of sanitation employees is done by their company,” said Malay Neerav, DU spokesperson.

But the university has constituted an inquiry committee to look into the allegations made by the sanitation workers.

Rakesh Chandra, Delhi coordinator of Sulabh International, said their contract ended with the hostel on December 31, 2015. “Retaining workers was up to the college. Why have they chosen to not hire few of the previous workers is something only they can answer,” he said.

Repeated attempts to reach hostel provost Rita Kakkar failed as she did not respond to calls and texts.

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