Three days after a sanitary worker fainted while cleaning a manhole in Basant Vihar extension area of Ludhiana, the police registered an FIR on Saturday against a local resident for allegedly forcing him to go inside the manhole.
On December 12, Pardeep Kumar (24) had fainted after inhaling toxic gas while he was inside the manhole. He was pulled out by three of his co-workers and taken to Christian Medical College and Hospital (CMCH) for treatment.
As per the FIR registered by police, Pardeep Kumar in his statement said that he works as a contractual ‘sewerman’ with Ludhiana Municipal Corporation. On Wednesday, he along with his three colleagues were asked to remove sewage in Basant Vihar extension. They were acting on a complaint by a local resident, Jaswinder Singh, who was also present on spot. Pardeep alleged that they were cleaning sewage from outside when Jaswinder “forced” them to go inside the manhole. He further alleged that Jaswinder claimed to be “pradhan (president)” of the area colony and said that he will get them fired from their job if they will not clean sewage properly. “I went inside only because Jaswinder Singh threatened that he will get me fired. He also claimed that he is colony president,” said Pardeep in his statement.
Vipan Vinayak, whose wife Pallavi Vinayak is a Congress councillor from ward number 3, told The Indian Express, “I and my family were not in city when this incident happened on December 12. We never force any sanitary worker to go inside manhole knowing well that it is banned. Jaswinder Singh is a local resident and just an acquaintance. We never called any sanitary worker officially for cleaning work. It was not through my office.”
An FIR against Jaswinder Singh has been registered under the sections 284 (negligent conduct with subject to poisonous substance), 506 (criminal intimidation) of IPC; section 9 of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act and section 3(IV) of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act at Basti Jodhewal police station.
Inspector Gurbinder Singh, SHO Basti Jodhewal police station said that accused is absconding and yet to be arrested. “He allegedly claimed to be colony president. He is now absconding and yet to be arrested,” said SHO.
Since August, this has been the fourth incident in Ludhiana city of sanitary workers getting sick while cleaning manholes manually which is a banned practise as per the orders of Supreme Court.