Anganwadi Workers Continue Protest Despite Leader’s Dismissal
A Jharkhand government constituted a committee on October 1 and evicted Bina Sinha, the head of Anganwadi Sevika Sahayika Sangh workers. The committee set up by the Jharkhand government to decide on increasing the wages of the Anganwadi workers and helpers, sent her a letter informing her about her removal from the post. A few days before this notice, the Chief Minister of Jharkhand, Raghubar Das had threatened 76,864 Anganwadi workers of dismissing them all if they don’t stop their protests against the government for a wage hike.
The Anganwadi workers of Jharkhand have been protesting to get a justified wage amount from the state government since August 16. After protesting for close to 50 days now in the middle of which they were beaten up by male police officers, threatened of expulsion for the government etc., these women did not back down despite the government’s move to evict their leader, Sinha.
These women, a force of 76,864 in total, comprise of sevikas and sahayikas who work in 38,432 Anganwadi centres. Currently, these sevikas get Rs 5900 and sahayikas get Rs 2950 per month for their work under the Integrated Child Development Services program to combat child hunger and malnutrition.
Talking to SheThePeople.TV, Bina says that she does not fear losing her job. “I stood up for a greater cause when we all Anganwadi workers decided to fight for our rightful wages. If the government thinks we will get scared and drop the protest just because they have now started to remove leaders, then they are wrong. Our fight isn’t against the government; our fight is to get a raise in our wages as it is difficult to survive in the amount currently given to us. Help us better our lives by giving us fair pay.”
Bina had recently gone on hunger strike for 15 days but ended it after the government constituted a committee to decide on the wages for the Jharkhand Anganwadi workers. However, she lost her father while she was on the hunger strike but since she didn’t want to break the strike, she did not leave the protest area to see her father for the last time.
“I stood up for a greater cause when we all Anganwadi workers decided to fight for our rightful wages. If the government thinks we will get scared and drop the protest just because they have now started to discard the leaders, then they are wrong.
The committee was constituted on September 30. It has ensured the Anganwadi workers of the state that it will call for reports from all the other states and after studying those reports, it will come to a decision of increasing the wages between October 9-11. After the order came from the committee, the Jharkhand Anganwadi Workers Union had decided to stop the protests until October 12 on the same day when the committee made the announcement. However, with the dismissal of Bina and a few other Anganwadi leaders, the protests again ignited among the workers.
Another Anganwadi worker, Namita Das says that the government should not have dismissed Bina because she is our leader. “We are protesting for a wage hike. We are not terrorists who are trying to murder somebody that the government is behaving this way with us. But we must tell them that we will not back down. We have always spoken politely with the government. Even on September 30 when they said that they are considering our demands and will be calling for reports from other states, we shut down the protests until they come back with a decision. But this is unethical of the government to dismiss her like that.” Namita started to work as an Anganwadi worker in 2007 in the Eastern Singhbhum district.
Image credit: Balmukund Sinha