Bengaluru: While a video of a mob attacking healthcare workers in Madhya Pradesh has gone viral, a similar incident of hostility towards ASHA workers occurred in Bengaluru. On Wednesday, the health activists and officials were on a surveillance round in Sadiq Nagar in North Bengaluru, when they were accosted by a group of residents questioning them on why they were there.
According to deputy chief minister CN Ashwath Narayan, the Accredited Social Health Activists, or ASHA workers, were on routine duty in Byatarayanapura, as a woman, working as a maid in the area, had tested positive of Covid-19. "The mosque made an announcement, instigating the residents of Sadiq Nagar to surround the health workers and they were manhandled by the mob. This incident has completely demoralised the health workers," he said.
In another video doing the rounds of social media, one of the ASHA workers, who was part of the team that visited Sadiq Nagar, says that the mob was very hostile and didn't allow them to even make a phone call. "They stopped us, asked us what we are doing. We explained to them. They started shouting 'why have you come, who asked you to come'. They started snatching our bag, phones. They didn't even allow us to call anyone," the woman says, fighting back tears.
An FIR has been lodged in the matter.
Later on Thursday, three people were arrested in connection with the attack, news agency ANI reported.
The incident caught the attention of many Twitter users, who condemned the actions of the locals.
Bengaluru: ASHA workers, nurse attacked by mob for collecting Coronavirus related health details, instructions to attack came from Mosque https://t.co/wQrnzAVxQ5— Nupur J Sharma (@UnSubtleDesi) April 2, 2020
Even Karnataka health minister B Sriramulu tweeted that legal action would be taken against those who instigated such an act.
ಇಲ್ಲಿ ಜಾತಿ, ಮತ, ಧರ್ಮ ಮುಖ್ಯವಲ್ಲ. ನಿಮ್ಮ ವೈಯಕ್ತಿಕ ಹಿತಾಸಕ್ತಿ ಮುಖ್ಯವಲ್ಲ. ಕೋಟ್ಯಂತರ ಕನ್ನಡಿಗರ, ಭಾರತೀಯರ ಆರೋಗ್ಯ ಮುಖ್ಯ. ಬೆಂಗಳೂರಿನ ಸಾಧಿಕ್ ಪಾಳ್ಯದಲ್ಲಿ ಕೆಲವು ಕಿಡಿಗೇಡಿಗಳು ಸೇರಿ ನರ್ಸ್ ಮೇಲೆ ಹಲ್ಲೆ ಮಾಡಿದ್ದು ಅತ್ಯಂತ ಹೇಯ ಕೃತ್ಯ. ಯಾರೇ ಆಗಲಿ, ಅವರ ಮೇಲೆ ನಿರ್ದಾಕ್ಷಿಣ್ಯವಾಗಿ ಕಾನೂನುರೀತ್ಯ ಕ್ರಮ ಕೈಗೊಳ್ಳಲಿದ್ದೇವೆ. pic.twitter.com/FerrOVkA5P— B Sriramulu (@sriramulubjp) April 2, 2020
He also asked residents to respect these workers as in such distressing times they were risking their lives by coming to each door. He compared the health activists with God.
ಮನೆ ಬಾಗಿಲಿಗೆ ಬಂದು #Covid19 ಬಗ್ಗೆ ಜಾಗೃತಿ ಮೂಡಿಸುವ ವೈದ್ಯರು, ನರ್ಸ್ ಗಳು, ಆಶಾ ಕಾರ್ಯಕರ್ತರು ಹಾಗೂ ಈ ಸಂಕಷ್ಟದ ಸಮಯದಲ್ಲಿ ಹಗಲಿರುಳು ದುಡಿಯುತ್ತಿರುವವರು ದೇವರ ಸಮಾನ. ಅವರನ್ನು ಗೌರವದಿಂದ ನೋಡಿ. ಅವರ ಮೇಲೆ ಹಲ್ಲೆ ನಡೆದರೆ ನೋಡಿಕೊಂಡು ಸುಮ್ಮನೆ ಕೂರಲಾಗುವುದಿಲ್ಲ. ಎಚ್ಚರವಿರಲಿ!! pic.twitter.com/1pAJOEZCrE— B Sriramulu (@sriramulubjp) April 2, 2020
In the video, the ASHA worker says that she had never faced such a situation before in the five years since she took up the work. She also requests the authorities to arrest the person responsible for making the announcement from the mosque.
"We are doing this for their (people's) good, but they are torturing us. We managed to call the police, doctors, etc, but these people started attacking everyone in the area. As soon as they heard the announcement in the mosque, they all started attacking us. That person who made the announcement should also be punished," the woman is heard pleading.