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Dalits and Adivasis

Suicide of JNU Sanitation Worker Sparks Row, Administration Faces Criticism Over Delayed Wage Payments

A 55-year-old contractual worker named Vijay Valmiki, who was employed as a ‘safai karamchari’ (sanitation worker) on a private contract at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), allegedly committed suicide by hanging himself on the university campus in southwest Delhi. The incident was reported to the police via a PCR call at 1.59 pm on Tuesday. Police found Vijay hanging from a tree with an iron chain around his neck near a multi-storeyed building on the campus.

A senior police officer stated that the scene was inspected and proceedings under Section 174 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) have been initiated. Further inquiries are underway to determine the cause of the suicide.

The JNU administration expressed sorrow over the incident and extended heartfelt condolences to Vijay’s family. “The university is deeply saddened by the lA 55-year-old contractual worker allegedly committed suicide by hanging himself inside the Jawaharlal Nehru University campus in southwest Delhi, police said on Tuesday. oss of one of the outsourced staff and extends its heartfelt condolences to his family members. In light of this tragedy, the university is committed to providing its support to the family during this difficult time,” the statement read.

It mentioned that Vijay’s salary was regularly paid by the vendor who employed him and directed the vendor to provide all necessary assistance to his family, including any ex-gratia payment.

Jawaharlal Nehru University Teachers Association (JNUTA), however, said “This death comes in the context of irregular and delayed wage payments to contract workers which has sometimes spanned months in JNU.”

“The delays and irregularity have been especially compounded for sanitary workers in JNU who belong to the bottom most layer of the graded social labour hierarchy”, it added. 

“This along with the increasing onerous contractualisation and casualisation of essential jobs which are perennial in nature is blatantly illegal”, JNUTA underlined, alleging, “The JNU administration has been committing these illegalies with impunity for years now. This is ironical for an administration that always flaunts itself as the ‘topmost’ university in the country.”

Pointing out the ongoing struggle of sanitary workers and other contract workers in JNU against illegality and injustice, JNUTA president Moushumi Basu and secretary Syed Akhtar Husain stated, “Vijay Valmiki had been active in the struggle by his union against these illegal and unethical practices that the JNU administration has routinised, and had made significant contributions to the periodic victory of these struggles.”

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