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As the strike by Delhi Anganwadi workers enter third week, AAP govt sends threatening messages and notices to them

The Anganwadi workers in Delhi are demanding facilities like PF, pensions, medical aid, regularized government job, restored widow pension, etc.

Anganwadi workers in Delhi have been on strike since 31st January 2022 demanding better pay and working conditions. The women are protesting near CM Kejriwal’s residence. However, instead of listening to their problems, the AAP government of Delhi is threatening the women. The protests are becoming intense with every passing day and the AAP leadership along with the CM Kejriwal is busy in campaigning for the Punjab assembly elections.

The Delhi State Anganwadi Workers and Helpers Union is protesting for the last two weeks with demands of better facilities and working conditions for the women. The workers are demanding facilities like PF, pensions, medical aid, regularized government job, restored widow pension, etc. With these demands, hundreds of Anganwadi workers and helpers have come on the streets. Some of them have even brought their children along. Delhi is witnessing one of the largest frontline-workers protests ever which is led by women.

According to a report by TV9 Live, these women are joining the protests every day after they perform all their household duties. They look after their children and the other family members on one hand while on the other hand, they are strengthening the voice of their co-workers in the strike. Many women have not gone to their daily duty and are participating in the protest.

The union has put forth a demand that the state and the Centre should fill vacancies in the ICDS schemes. They are also demanding the rolling back of the National Education Policy which according to the union is a threat to the job security of these workers. The workers are also identifying the ‘Saheli Coordination Center’ as an obligation with forced labour. Therefore the union has also demanded to withdraw the same. The workers get Rs 6000 honorarium which they say is insufficient to run their families.

The walls on the streets of Civil Lines near Vikas Bhawan in Delhi are full of the protest arts made by these protestors. The women have taken the food along as they are not ready to move even to have meals. Shaheen Bagh protests and Farmer protests have seen five star facilities for the protestors being provided by their backdoor supporters. The funding trails were also exposed later. In sharp contrast to this, these anganwadi workers don’t even have proper facility of drinking water while they are sitting on the roads of Delhi.

Taking this to Twitter, political Dr Anand Ranganathan has said “Did you know – for TWO WEEKS thousands of our Anganwadi CoVID warriors are on dharna outside Arvind Kejriwal’s home demanding their pitiful honorarium? That’s the power of ad money. No news is good news.”

The workers are also protesting outside the offices of different AAP MLAs as well. On 14th February 2022, the women had protested outside the office of MLA Haji Yunus. On 15th February 2022, they had protested outside the office of AAP MLA Dilip Pandey.

The AAP government in Delhi has however tried to end this strike right from the day it started. The major communications regarding this, are done on WhatsApp, the social media platform used by the workers to organize the protests. The anganwadi workers were given free smartphones by the Delhi government in 2019 for filling up various data. The same phone has now become an important tool in the agitation against the same government. According to a report by The Hindu, the anganwadi workers protesting near Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s residence, have received, on WhatsApp, letters from the Delhi government threatening them of action if they do not join work.

The Child Development Project officer has sent a letter to the protesting Anganwadi workers in Shiva Vihar on 14th February 2022. The letter reads, “As per orders, you should immediately report to your anganwadi centres. Else file will be sent to the headquarters for departmental proceedings against you.” The Hindu has reported that letters with the exact same words were also sent to another group of women who were protesting in Prem Nagar area.

In another message on a WhatsApp group, the supervisor has informed the workers that they will not be paid for the days they are protesting and not attending work. On 15th February 2022, minimum 47 workers protesting in the Seemapuri area had received an individual letter from a supervisor on WhatsApp. In this letter, these workers are warned of action against them for not attending work. 

Around 20000 Anganwadi workers and helpers work in Delhi. Director of Department of Women and Child Development, Rashmi Singh, has said, “We have not issued any letter or notice to workers from the headquarters, but I don’t know about district levels. We have issued a notice for a meeting with the Anganwadi workers and the Minister will also be a part of it.”

There has been a threat of mass termination of these workers right from the beginning of the protest. On a WhatsApp group of lower officials, a senior officer of the department has written “Please convey them that we are genuinely and seriously trying hard to resolve their issue. If still they don’t want to cooperate, they must be ready for mass termination.”

This officer has sent a voice message in the same group. In this Hindi message, he says “On one side there is the union and on the other side you have to open the anganwadi and fail the protest. This strike has to be failed and it’s your responsibility. Don’t play into their hands. Open the anganwadi centres.”

According to a report in The Hindu, a senior official was asked about this voice message. In response, he had said “Some workers wanted to open the anganwadi centres and they were being threatened by the ones on the strike and it was then the audio was sent. The ones who are willing should be allowed to work and open centres.”

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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