Now, blind lift attendant alleges harassment at workplace
For the second day running, Chandrakant Kadam -- Ajit Pawar’s rival in Assembly elections -- was harassed at PDCC Bank, yesterday; was allowed to resume duty following mounting media pressure
The very day mid-day reported how Chandrakant Kadam feared losing his job for having contested the Assembly elections against NCP leader Ajit Pawar, he met yet more resistance and harassment at his workplace, the Pawar-run Pune District Central Cooperative (PDCC) Bank. Not only was he barred from entering the bank, he was also allegedly manhandled by the bank’s officials and employees yesterday.
Waiting game: Kadam spent most of Tuesday waiting near PDCC Bank, after he was forced to leave the premises in the morning. He was allowed to return to work only at 3 pm, after the media intervened on his behalf.
Kadam, a visually-impaired lift attendant at the bank, had been appointed nine months ago, by none other than his election rival, Pawar, who is one of the two directors of the bank.
mid-day had reported yesterday, that Kadam was worried about a backlash after he took on his employer and NCP heavyweight, Pawar, in the Assembly polls recently (‘Blind man who took on Ajit Pawar afraid of losing his job’, November 11). According to Kadam, on Sunday a senior official at the bank had told him on the telephone that he need not return to work.
mid-day's report on Nov 11
When he turned up at the bank on Monday anyway, the official took Kadam aside and asked him why he had signed in for work. Kadam was adamant, however, that he would not stop working till he receives a written notice from the bank explaining the reason for his dismissal, and was finally allowed to resume work, following the confrontation.
However, his fears of harassment were confirmed again yesterday, when he turned up for work at 9 am, and was denied entry. “As per my routine, I caught a state transport bus from Baramati and reached the bank at 9 am. However the security guards at the main gate said they had already received clear instructions to bar me from entering the premises. They immediately stopped me and forced me leave,” said Kadam.
In the afternoon, around 1 pm, Kadam tried to enter PDCC Bank yet again. “This time, two senior bank officials and two other employees began exchanging arguments with me and then manhandled me. They told me to go away immediately, and threatened me to never return to the bank again,” he recalled.
Following mid-day’s report on Tuesday, however, Kadam’s plight had received considerable attention in the media, and both this newspaper, as well as some news channels, began enquiring about his forced exit.
With the pressure from the media mounting, Kadam received a call two hours later, at around 3 pm, and was asked to meet the bank’s deputy chairman, Adv Sanjay Kale and senior official, Samir Rajput. Kadam, who had been waiting near the office instead of going home, went to meet them immediately, and was back at work again in no time.
“Soon after receiving calls from the media, they called me to the bank, and both Kale and Rajput asked me to rejoin duty immediately,” he said.
But he is still far from secure about his job. “I don’t know how long they will allow me to work. Though I have been working here for the past nine months, the bank has still not given me an appointment letter,” Kadam added.
In fact, Kadam said that before filing his nomination for the elections, he had informed top bank officials about his decision, and said that they had made it clear that the bank had no objection as he was within his rights to do so.
Kadam was allowed to return to work between 3 pm and 5 pm yesterday, after which he went home. But if the past two day are any indication, he could well face a similar predicament when he returns to work again.
Samir Rajput, a senior official at PDCC Bank, confirmed that both he and the deputy chairman had met Kadam and asked him to resume his duties yesterday. However, he did not comment on why Kadam had been barred in the first place. “He is not a permanent employee of of the bank. Today we have asked him to rejoin his duties, but the final decision about his job will be taken in the next couple of days,” he said.