Sunil Yadav had asked to be transferred to M ward so he could work in Chembur, which is closer to his home and TISS. File pic
With four degrees under his belt, Sunil Yadav is the most educated sweeper employed by the BMC. And yet, he has been removed from his job. All he had asked for was to be transferred to Chembur, where he is now pursuing his fifth degree - a PhD. What he got instead was a letter informing him that he had been relieved of his duties at D ward.
Recently, the BMC celebrated 23 of its employees who had cleared Std X and even gave them hikes in salary, along with improved chances of promotion. Yadav, 37, has received none of this support.
Now a PhD student at the prestigious Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Yadav had merely wanted a transfer to M-ward so he could work in Chembur and be close to his home and the institute. "I have been trying to get a transfer from D-ward to M-ward so that I can focus on my studies as well. After three years of struggle, I received a notice stating that I have been relieved of my responsibilities at D-ward. But when I visited the M-ward office, they said they had not received any notice to employ me," he said. The notice did not have information on whether his transfer had been approved and whether he would continue to receive a pay check or not. "When I questioned them, I was told that they have not sacked me, but just relieved me from my duties at D-ward. But if I am not absorbed in another ward, I will have work or wages. How will I support my family?" said the father of two school-going girls.
Not the first time
This is not the first time the BMC has placed roadblocks in Yadav's progress. When he was pursuing his Master's degree, his bosses had allegedly refused to grant him study leave, even though employees are entitled to 24 months of leave in order to pursue higher education. Later, the BMC also denied him the post of divisional labour welfare officer, even though he holds a Masters degree in labour studies – the required qualification for the job.
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"I do not understand why I am subjected to such harassment without no fault in my work? I have been regularly going to work at night and pursuing my studies during the day. My only request was to be shifted to a ward closer to home," said Yadav.
TISS has his back
Upon hearing of Yadav's struggles, students from TISS have come together to help him, circulating messages to garner more support for his cause. The students are also attempting to meet the Minister of Social Justice Ramdas Athawale to demand justice for Yadav.
Digambar Bagul, an MPhil student who is spearheading the movement, said, "It is really shocking that our civic authority is dishonouring the great achievements of Yadav, who has risen from an underprivileged background and struggled his way up to this point. The BMC should celebrate him, rather than subjecting him to such behaviour."
BMC deputy commissioner Vijay Balamwar said, "Yadav has been relieved from duty at D-ward as per his request to be transferred to M-ward. His request has been granted approval." When asked why there is no mention of the transfer in the notice, Balamwar replied, "Yadav should have approached us directly for clarity."
TISS students say
Students have been circulating a message stating: "Yadav is a brave fighter and has been fighting against the inhuman treatment given to manual scavengers. Despite getting higher education from TISS, he was not given any promotion from sweeper's post. He used to work at night and attend classes during day. His struggle is very painful. His family of four depends on him. All TISS fraternity should stand with Yadav for his right."
Number of degrees Sunil Yadav currently holds
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