After an Asha worker was beaten up in Faridabad while conducting a door-to-door coronavirus-related survey, a similar incident was reported in Nuh on Wednesday. This time, Asha worker Sajeeda and her husband, the ward panch, were allegedly beaten up by a man and his three sons. The anganwadi worker accompanying them managed to escape by hiding inside a resident’s home.
Police said the accused, Jaan Mohammad and his sons, are absconding. The alleged incident took place around 1 pm at Luhinga Kalan village.
An FIR has been registered at Punhana police station under several IPC sections. “We are conducting investigations to arrest the accused. We expect to nab them within a day or two,” said ASI Devi Singh, the investigating officer.
“Teams of three people have been formed for the survey — the ward panch, anganwadi worker, and an Asha worker. I had gone there with my team. However, members of one family refused to give us the information,” said Sajeeda.
She alleged the men first argued with them and then grabbed their papers. “They beat us up… the anganwadi worker managed to sneak into another resident’s house moments before they became violent… my husband and I were both beaten up,” alleged Sajeeda.
“My father-in-law owns a hotel in the area. He came running on hearing the commotion, but the men beat him up as well… We managed to run and hide inside the house of another person. I called my supervisor who alerted police,” she said.
Sajeeda, who has been an Asha worker for two years, claimed confrontations with people during surveys are a regular occurrence, and have become even more common since the virus outbreak.
“People often become angry even when we go for normal surveys. They are very suspicious, especially since the NRC and CAA… Coronavirus has made it even tougher because everyone is on edge. Usually we manage to explain things to them calmly and get the information, but it was impossible this time,” she said.
On Wednesday, Faridabad Police Commissioner K K Rao had warned that strict action will be taken against anyone found misbehaving with ASHA workers.
The Asha Workers’ Union in Faridabad meanwhile submitted a letter to the health department requesting that teams be deployed to accompany them.
“We all go to the field on our own every day… Things have changed with coronavirus… people are more frustrated and tend to take out their aggression against the government on our workers,” said Hemlata Goyal, district president of the Asha Workers’ Union. She has been an Asha worker since 2003, first in rural areas and since 2014 in urban areas.
Sushila Chaudhary, an Asha worker in the district, said, “We leave our homes each day and risk our health, roaming around in the heat… we are doing it for the benefit of the country and the people we survey. Our families are concerned but I consider this my duty.”
A team accompanying workers, Chaudhary said, will make things easier.
Officials from the health department said it is unlikely they will be able to deploy teams to accompany the workers. “Door-to-door surveys are something the Asha workers carry out anyway. If there is any issue on any day, our officials and their supervisors are always available and supportive, but we lack the manpower to send them out with a team,” said an official from the health department.
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