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UP: Demands Rise to Reinstate Sanitation Worker Sacked for Carrying Modi, Yogi's Photos in Garbage Cart

The Sanitation Workers Union has threatened a tools-down agitation if the district administration or the state labour department did not reinstate the dismissed worker.
Yogi

Image Source:  Twitter @Benarasiyaa

Lucknow: The threat of an indefinite strike by the sanitation workers of Uttar Pradesh looms large after the service of a contractual sanitation worker was terminated following framed portraits of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath being found in his garbage cart.

The Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU)-affiliated Sanitation Workers Union, which has the support of about 10,000 workers, has threatened a tools-down agitation if the district administration or the state labour department did not act positively on their demands and reinstated the dismissed worker.

“Our union members have given notice in many districts. If we don’t see any positive action from the district administration in a week, we will fix the date for going ahead with a strike after July 25,” Gautam, state general secretary of Uttar Pradesh Sanitation Workers Association, told NewsClick. He added that Bobby, the terminated worker, was only doing his job of collecting garbage. “It was not his fault to collect the portraits of PM Modi and CM Yogi. Instead of terminating him who was simply doing his job, an inquiry should be initiated against those who actually threw the portraits," he said.

He further added, “Before initiating action against sanitation worker Bobby, at least what actually happened, in reality, should be considered. It should have been ascertained whether he was at fault or not. If justice is not delivered, we will boycott work and hit the road across the state.”

THE INCIDENT

Bobby, a sanitation worker in Mathura, lost his job after a viral video showed him pushing a garbage cart with pictures of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath inside.

The video, which was widely shared on social media, showed the man pushing the cart when some people pointed him out for carrying the photos of PM Modi, CM Yogi and former President APJ Abdul Kalam in the garbage cart.

In the video, some men can be seen confronting the sanitation worker by pulling out the pictures from the garbage cart. The worker could be heard saying that he found the pictures in the garbage, and thus, he put them in his cart.

The men later took the pictures out of the garbage cart and washed them using a nearby tap.

After the video went viral on social media, the sanitation worker was sacked from his job by the Mathura administration.

“We came to know about the incident through the media that portraits of the prime minister and chief minister were being carried in a hand-driven garbage vehicle by a sanitation worker named Bobby. This garbage was lifted from a location near the Intermediate College, and mistakenly, there were photos of the PM and CM,” Satyendra Tiwari, the additional commissioner for Mathura Nagar Nigam, told the media. 

Bobby came to know about this when told by the locals, and he removed those photos immediately. However, "the sanitation worker seems to be guilty of carelessness and thus his services, on contract, are being terminated,” added the additional commissioner. 

“Why did he not see these photos of PM Modi and CM Yogi before putting them in the garbage cart? He was punished for the negligence he has shown at duty,” Tiwari further said. 

However, Bobby denied the allegation of carelessness at duty. He told NewsClick that he was merely doing his duty. Like every other day, he was simply carrying what he found in the garbage from a spot near Subhash Intermediate College near Nagar Nigam in Mathura and was unaware of the photos of the prime minister and chief minister being in it. 

“My job is to clean wherever a pile of garbage is found; that day, I picked up all the garbage and put it inside my cart. That day many pictures were in the garbage heap, which I could not see and I put those pictures in my cart with the garbage. Someone made a video of it and made it viral,” said an inconsolable Boddy, the sole breadwinner among four family members. He claimed that there was no ration at his home after he was terminated from his contract. “I will starve to death if the situation remains the same,” he added. 

The sanitation worker pleaded with CM Yogi Adityanath and the officials of the municipal corporation to reinstate him; otherwise, he would starve to death.

Bobby’s wife said that her husband was illiterate and could not understand before picking up garbage and lost his job, but those who threw pictures of PM Modi and CM Yogi must be educated. They must be so educated to differentiate between wrong and right. “What wrong my husband has done? The administration should tell us,” She said.

Meanwhile, former councillor Vikram Balmiki in Mathura, who had written to the Mayor with their demands for the reinstation of Bobby, threatened to hold a protest. He said the Valmiki community across the state will hit the road against the injustice meted out to a poor sanitation worker.

“As usual Bobby was doing his duty and he did not commit any crime by picking up the portraits. Those who threw them should be punished,” he told NewsClick.

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