BENGALURU:A Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) sweeper S Subramani took his life on Sunday, after suffering from penury for months because he had not been paid his salary. For seven months, the 40-year-old received no salary despite his daily grind of cleaning and gathering garbage from residences of Nagappa Street, Pipeline Road in Bengaluru.
Subramani is said to have been “regularised” as BBMP pourkarmika in January, before which he was a contract employee for 18 years, starting with Rs 5,000 per month in 2000 and earning Rs 14,000 by December 2017.
He was given to understand that from January 2018, his salary would be Rs 17,100 per month on being regularised. But, according to BBMP Commissioner Manjunath Prasad, Subramani was one of the 3,000-odd employees in “excess” of the 18,300 on the rolls of BBMP whose salaries were to be paid off and then relieved.
“We had directed our officials to clear their salaries and relieve them. In all the wards in West zone — except Ward number 77 (Dattatreya Ward) where Subramani was working — the pending payments were cleared,” he said.
With no money to feed his wife and children or to pay his kids’ private school fees, the broken man consumed a deadly pesticide on Sunday afternoon and was declared dead by evening at KC General Hospital in Malleswaram.
On his person was a letter dated July 9, written by him and addressed to Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president Dinesh Gundu Rao — a letter he had planned to personally deliver on Monday with a heartfelt appeal to help get his hard-earned salary which has remained elusive since January 2018. The letter never reached Gundu Rao.
Subramani, on Sunday evening, became the first pourakarmika in Bengaluru to commit suicide due to non-payment of salary. Countless protests staged by pourakarmikas to press BBMP and its contractors to regularise their payments seemed to have gone in vain.
Bengaluru Development Minister G Parameshwara, on his part, said: “I have been told that Subramani was suffering from an illness which led him to take this extreme step. Once the truth comes out, a decision will be taken to announce the compensation to the family.”
However, Subramani’s wife, Kavitha, confirmed to The News Indian Express: “He did not suffer even from cough and remained healthy throughout his working life. I wonder where the minister got that information from.”
Insensitive show of empathy
With two children tugging at her saree, Kavitha, wife of the deceased Subramani, stood grieving for her husband in a corner at KC General Hospital, Malleswaram, on Monday. The quiet scene was disrupted when Mayor Sampath Raj led her to the centre of a protesting crowd to thrust a cheque for K5 lakh into her hand in front of the waiting cameras.