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COVID-19: 5 Held for Allegedly Misbehaving With ASHAs in Bengaluru

DCP East said residents had manhandled ASHA workers thinking info was being collected for NRC, based on a rumour, 

Updated
COVID-19
3 min read
ASHA workers in north Bengaluru were allegedly assaulted and verbally abused as they were conducting a door-to-door survey on 1 April, when their bags and mobiles were snatched by residents who reportedly believed that information was being sought for NPR.
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Five people have been arrested by police for allegedly misbehaving with ASHA workers as they conducted a door-to-door survey in light of COVID-19 in Bengaluru’s Hennur area on Wednesday, 1 April.

Based on a complaint by a senior health inspector of the state health department, the accused have been booked under the following sections of the IPC: 353 Assault or criminal force to deter public servant from duty, 188 disobedience of order carried out by public servant, 504 insult with intent to breach peace, 143 unlawful assembly, 149 offence committed as part of unlawful assembly.

A crowd of angry citizens in north Bengaluru had allegedly abused two Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) for enquiring into their health and travel history at Sadiq Layout in Hennur police station limits, where a group of 10-15 ASHAs were conducting a door-to-door survey of residents, in light of a positive case being reported from a neighbouring locality of Sarayipalya. Senior police officials said that the ruckus has started based on a rumour that information was being collected for NRC purposes

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One of the heckled ASHAs, Krishnaveni told ANI that she, along with others, had been working in the area for the last 10 days, going door-to-door.

“He started asking why we are collecting all this information and we told him we are doing it for COVID-19-related symptoms. He got aggressive and started asking who sent us there. He then made an announcement from the masjid and started verbally attacking us and scolding us,” she said.

“They snatched our mobiles and bags, and didn’t let us call anyone. We alerted one of our colleagues nearby and finally, the hoysala (police vehicle) was able to come. It was very upsetting, we are coming here for them, and so many people are against us, they are torturing us. Such people should be punished.”
Krishnaveni, ASHA for 5 years

Things were reportedly going smoothly, until one of the residents allegedly kicked up a fuss over being asked for his mobile number by two of the ASHAs and attracted the attention of others, allegedly via an announcement from masjid in the area.

Speaking to The Quint, DCP East said that ASHAs had been conducting a survey in the area without incident for the last many days. “Today, someone spread a rumour that it was for NRC purpose. People objected to lawful discharge of duty by the ASHAs .The health department is filing a complaint, after which we will register an FIR. We cannot comment on the announcement part now,” he said.

Condemning the incident, Health Minister B Sriramulu shared the video in his Twitter handle and said, "The doctors, nurses and health workers who toil day and night are like Gods. Respect them. Will not sit idle if they are attacked. Beware!"

Deputy Chief Minister C N Ashwath Narayan visited Krishnaveni's residence and enquired about her health.

‘We Are Not Safe’

Nagalakshmi, secretary of Karnataka State Samyukta ASHA Workers' Association, said that she complained to the health minister about the lack of protection to ASHAs who are on the frontlines, when everyone was staying at home.

“I have requested the minister for protection for our ASHAs. This is a government job, and they have been troubled on duty. The health department should take it up. I have told the health minister, that we are not safe, you need to give proper protection. He has assured us of said police protection,” she said.

(With inputs from PTI)

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