Gravediggers' plight in Bengaluru: No pay for 8 years, no ration cards

The children of gravediggers too are ending up in the same profession as they do not have access to basic education.

Bengaluru: Gravediggers in the city are a neglected lot and claimed that the BBMP has not paid them for the last eight years and the promised wage hike too still remains on paper. They earn their living from the contributions of relatives and friends, who visit graveyards for final rights.

The children of gravediggers too are ending up in the same profession as they do not have access to basic education. Their houses are in a dilapidated state and they do not have ration cards to take care of their nutrition needs.

Shourie Raja, general secretary, Ambedkar Dalit Sangharsh Samithi Rudrabhoomi Workers’ Association, told Deccan Chronicle that the BBMP assured them that the dues would be cleared, but nothing has been done till now. “Around 200 workers are registered with the BBMP and officials had assured us Rs 1,000 per month. But since 2010, we haven’t received a single paisa. Every time we ask for money, they give us various reasons, knowing that we do not understand anything, as we are not educated,” he rued.

Raja, who also works as a gravedigger at the Kalpalli cemetery, said that in 2017, when gravediggers protested, the BBMP had assured them an increase in salary equivalent to that of pourakarmikas, which is Rs 17,000.

“We were happy that at least they considered us and decided to give us a rise in salary. They told us that the procedure will be completed by October 2017 after getting the approval of the Council, but till today there is no news of it,” he said.

He said that their houses leak during rains and may collapse anytime. “We have cell phones but no proper toilets, such is our pathetic state. Officials promised us loans to build houses, but everything is only on paper.”

Another gravedigger Naresh from the Ulsoor graveyard said that for several generations, they have been staying inside graveyards, as they do not have any knowledge of the outside world and no access to education.

“Now, our children are trying to learn our trade but we do not want that. We like to educate them, but we don’t have money to buy even a pair of shoes.”

A BBMP official said that they are discussing about clearing gravediggers’ wages at the earliest. “235 gravediggers are registered with the BBMP and we have asked them to submit valid documents, but they are not coming forward. We will hold a meeting with them and ensure that their problems are solved."

Mayor Sampath Raj said, “I will contact the officers concerned and check the dues. I will make sure that they are paid. We will also seek the council’s approval and pay their increased salary at the earliest.”

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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