BENGALURU: Asha health workers who were to hold a protest in Bengaluru on Wednesday, were stopped forcefully by police while they were on their way to the city from various parts of the state.
Spotting the women clad in pink sarees, cops in nearly 10 districts stopped private and KSRTC buses which the protesters hired to reach Bengaluru. At times, police even diverted the buses so as to derail their plans. Several protesters were taken to local police stations.
Hanumesh G, district secretary, AIUTUC, told TNIE that taluk presidents of the Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) Union even received calls from the police on Tuesday midnight asking them to call off the protest. ASHA workers were coming to Bengaluru from Gauribidanur, Tumakuru, Davanagere, Sira, Chikkaballapur, Chintamani, Devanahalli and Doddaballapur, Mandya and Mysuru.
Despite these obstacles, members of the Karnataka Rajya Samyuktha ASHA Karyakarthara Sangha, affiliated to the All India United Trade Union Centre (AIUTUC), arrived at Freedom Park. Their demands include a hike in wages from Rs 4,000 to Rs 12,000, release of pending wages, Covid risk incentive of Rs 3,000, regular health checkups for all ASHA workers and face masks, hand sanitiser, gloves and PPE kits.
Dr Rajkumar, Deputy Director (RCH), health department, and Dr Omprakash Patil, Director, health department, arrived at the protest spot and assured them that their pending wages and risk incentive would be given within 15 days.
D Nagalaskhmi, State secretary of ASHA Union, said, “We met Health Minister Sriramulu at Vidhana Soudha. He assured us of a meeting with Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa on Friday. If they do not act, all 42,000 ASHA workers in the state will launch a massive protest in the coming days.”They had raised their demands in January and with no assurance from the State government, launched a strike between July 10 and 29, later calling it off on promises made by Sriramulu. However, there was no concrete action.
K Somashekar Yadgiri, State Secretary, AIUTUC and State president of ASHA union, said, “Today, the state government inflicted their force upon ASHA workers in more than 10 districts, to try and stop them from participating in their protest to demand social justice. Some ASHA workers were even sent back by force. “