Taking cognisance of a report in The Indian Express regarding the striking anganwadi workers’ contention that the government’s claim of ASHA workers filling in for them was false, an advocate has moved the Bombay High Court, seeking action against the striking workers and Women and Child Development Minister Pankaja Munde. Anganwadi workers across the state have been on an indefinite strike since September 11.
Referring to The Indian Express report published on September 26, Advocate Dr Gunratan Sadavarte told the court on Thursday that there were children in critical condition owing to the strike.
According to Sadavarte’s petition, it is undisputed that “anganwadi workers’ strike deprived children and pregnant women of necessary facilities, denying them their fundamental right to life”.
“Thus the strike was not only immoral, it was also illegal and unconstitutional,” stated the petition.
It also stated that the government was showing helplessness on an issue affecting children and pregnant women.
“Politics is being played by the parties. Uddhav Thackeray… may have agreed to lead the strike at ‘Azad Maidan’ Thursday. Whereas Pankaja Munde was unable to resolve the issue after several days of hunger of the kids,” it added.
Referring to data from the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS), the petition pointed out that there were 2.5 lakh children, aged less than six years, who were registered with the anganwadis. Of these, 2,251 are severely underweight, while the number of moderately underweight children is as high as 43,383. In Mankhurd alone, the petitioned added, there are 220 severely underweight and 2,423 moderately underweight children.