Bengaluru: Thirty-five civic workers on Thursday filed a police complaint against a Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagar Palike (BBMP) contractor for sexually harassing them when they demanded their wages that have been pending for three months.
On the occasion of Diwali, the women workers paid a visit to their contractor and demanded the payment. The contractor, according to workers, pulled his pants down, intimidating them with rape threats and abuse.
The contractor, then, passed lewd and casteist remarks. The women registered a complaint against the contractor accusing him of sexual offenses, caste abuse under the SC /ST Atrocities Act.
Nagalakshmi, one of the victims, told CNN-News18 that the contractor even threatened to get them raped by his goons.
"He pulled his pants down and told us we will be raped if we walk by bushes, in secluded areas. He told us our caste is always like the dirt under his feet, and then asked us to walk away with our heads bowed. We tried complaining to the local BBMP (Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagar Palike) officials like the Health Inspector, but the officials say we have to fear for our lives if they take up a complaint," she said.
A police officer registers a complaint while a woman worker explains how the contractor would exploit her and her fellow workers.
Another worker, Devi, broke down, explaining how they were treated with no respect. "He always misbehaves with us. He often asks other men to disrobe us. We have suffered for more than a year, ever since he took this contract."
Victims also alleged that though they were eligible for more than Rs 12,000 as wages every month, they barely received Rs 3,000 to Rs 5,000, with the contractor taking away the remaining money.
"My hair was pulled, I was physically assaulted and pushed to the ground," another victim said.
They finally contacted their pourakarmikas Union and lodged a complaint at the Krishnarajapuram police station. Clifton Rosario, a rights activist and lawyer, who was helping them file the case, said the new contractor pays them poorly and has taken control of their bank accounts and ATM cards, which he operates.
"The contract system must go, the State Cabinet has said that workers should be paid directly, but BBMP is dragging its feet on this. Why have they allowed a goonda to work," Rosario said, adding that a separate complaint has been forwarded to the BBMP top brass and they are also probing the matter.
The Social Welfare Department, after receiving a complaint, asked its zonal officials to inquire the incident and file a report.