TIRUNELVELI: The strike by Anganwadi workers in Tirunelveli over the suicide of one of their co-workers Sumathi, who allegedly resorted to the extreme sep of committing self-immolation after her senior officers’ harassment demanding bribe, was withdrawn as the district collector assured to book the ICDS officer under ‘SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act’ as the victim belongs to the Arunthahiyar community.
Sumathi (37), a widow and mother of two girl children of age 17 and 14, was appointed as anganwadi worker under the quota reserved for widows. She was posted in her village, Vagaikulam near Kallidaikuruchi in Tirunelveli district. Her superior officer, Ms Shanthi, block project officer, ICDS, Kadayam, however, persistently demanded bribe from Sumathi and allegedly threatened that she would not make her post permanent if she did not bring home the bribe amount.
It was also alleged that Shanthi had ill-treated Sumathi during anganwadi wokers' meet, called her by her caste name and even 'insulted' her. These complaints against the ICDS officer was given as dying declaration by Sumathi to the police at Tirunelveli medical college hospital, where she succumbed to burn injuries on Wednesday (Mar 21).
The death of Sumathi enraged her colleagues in the district, who on Thursday plunged in to an indefinite strike. Around 3,000 anganwadi workers and anganwadi assistants too thronged the Tirunelveli district collector’s office on Thursday demanding the immediate arrest of the ICDS Kadayam block officer, Shanthi, against whom a case was already registered and she was suspended.
The agitating anganwadi workers also wanted departmental action againstthe district project officer, ICDS, Ms Jeyasurya for her ‘indifference’ to the repeated complaints of anganwadi workers about Ms Shanthi.
After peace talks today, district collector Sandeep Nanduri directed the district police to file a case against the ICDS officer Shanthi, besides giving a compensation of Rs. 3 lakh to Sumathi's daughters and conveyed to them the State government's decision to give all educational assistance to the two daughters of the deceased woman. Nanduri also assured to order an inquiry into the matter by Tirunelveli RDO, Ms Mythili for further appropriate action....