Not Paid for 6 Months, Bengaluru Sweeper Kills Self; Union Leader Alleges 'Govt-Sponsored Murder'

Bengaluru: A Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) sweeper allegedly committed suicide after the civic body withheld his salary for over six months, leading to calls for the arrest of concerned officials.

According to his colleagues, 40-year-old Subramani had been working as a ‘pourakarmika’ (sweeper) on contract basis for more than 15 years.

He was reportedly in deep financial crisis after the BBMP failed to pay his salaries along with hundreds of others.

Obalappa, president of the BBMP Poura Karmikara Sangha, told News18 that over 2,000 employees like Subramani had not been paid for over six months.

"There are around 18,000 sweepers in Bengaluru. Among them, some 2,000 are called extra labourers and the BBMP has withheld their salaries on flimsy grounds. Subramani was one of them. He had two daughters. To feed them, he had taken loans from moneylenders at exorbitant rates. The creditors were harassing him. Unable to cope with all this, he ended his life. It is a government-sponsored murder. We demand immediate arrest of the concerned officials. They should be charged with murder,” Obalappa said.

The BBMP, which was once notorious for creating ‘ghost sweepers’ to siphon off funds, ended the system of paying salaries through contractors and introduced biometric and Aadhaar-linked bank transfer of salaries this January. But the new system has complicated matters for the sweepers, claim trade unions. 

According to BBMP employees association, there were 35,000 sweepers before this initiative. The number has now reportedly come down to 18,000.

The sweepers categorised as extras were made to give their Aadhaar and biometric details months ago, but their salaries remained unpaid.

Obalappa alleged that BBMP officials demanded bribes for the release of salaries and Subramani refused to pay them.

"BBMP officials take Rs 500-1,000 per sweeper to release their paltry salaries. If they refuse, salaries will be withheld. We demand their arrest under murder charges. Subramani had threatened to commit suicide if his dues were not paid. But they humiliated him, daring him to kill himself,” he said.

According to Obalappa, sweepers get a fixed salary of Rs 17, 500 per month.

Bengaluru Mayor Sampathraj said he would take strict action against officials responsible for Subramani's death.


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