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Bihar: Anganwadi Workers Protest, Demand Honorarium Hike, Govt Employee Status

The sevikas and sahayikas, who tried to gherao the Assembly, also threatened to intensify their stir if their demands were not met.
Anganwadi workers

Security personnel in a scuffle with Anganwadi workers protesting outside the Bihar Legislative Assembly, in Patna, Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023. Image Courtesy: PTI

Patna: Amid the ongoing winter session of the Bihar Assembly, hundreds of Anganwadi sevikas and sahayikas (helpers) took to the streets and staged a protest in Patna on Tuesday. 

The protesters tried to gherao Bihar Assembly as part of their protest demanding that the state government fulfil their five-point demand charter. They threatened to intensify their stir in the coming days if the Mahagathbandan government led by Nitish Kumar failed to fulfil their demands.

The protestors’ main demands include an increase in their monthly honorarium and government employee status for them. They are also demanding an increase in the
retirement age of the workers and a lump sum of Rs 5 lakh for Anganwadi sevikas and Rs 3 lakh for sahayikas.

Heavy security forces deployed by the state government stopped the sloganeering protestors near the state Assembly’s main gate when they tried to gherao the House. Police used water cannons and lathicharge to disperse the protestors.

According to leaders of the protest, during the police
action, some of them fell down and sustained injuries when police used water cannons.

“Our monthly honorarium is very low and we demand at least double the amount”, a protesting Anganwadi sevika Aparna Devi told Newsclick.

Another protestor, Savita Devi, said the state government should fulfil our demands because during the Bihar Assembly polls, none other than RJD (Rashtriya Janata Dal) leader and now Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav had promised to double monthly honorarium of Anganwadi sevikas and sahayikas if voted to power. “More than a year after he is in power, nothing has happened to our demands,” she said.

At present, the government is paying a monthly honorarium of Rs 6,500 to Anganwadi sevikas and Rs 5,900 to sahayikas.

later, Left parties, includng CPI, CPI(M) and CPI(ML) MLAs as well as Opposition BJP MLAs raised the issue of police action against Anganwadi protesters in the House.

In the past two years, thousands of Anganwadi sevikas and sahayikas, who are lowly paid contractual workers, have repeatedly protested, demanding a hike in honorarium,
government employee status and pension.

In Bihar, there are 2.15 lakh sevikas and sahayikas in nearly 1.14 lakh Anganwadi centres.

Last month, the state government increased the monthly honorarium of thousands of Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) workers, after repeated protests by the scheme workers. The honorarium was hiked from Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,500/month and the it was also demanded that
the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Central government should increase their honorarium under the National Health Mission.

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