High drama played out at a state-run Sir JJ Hospital on Friday as a hospital sweeper alleged that the dean Dr TP Lahane had made a casteist remark against him. The sweeper approached the JJ Marg police where a case was registered against Dr Lahane. No arrest has been made so far, the police said.
The incident occurred at 8.35am outside the Outpatient Department (OPD), when Dr Lahane was on his routine rounds. Most of the 600 temporary class-four workers, in JJ Hospital were on a strike since Thursday demanding permanency of job. Narayan Waghela, 35, a temporary class-four employee, who is a sweeper, along with his colleagues saw another sweeper working and asked him to stop as they were on a strike. This is when Lahane, who had overheard the conversation, interrupted and allegedly made a derogatory remark against Waghela.
The remark created a furore in the workers' community. Up to hundred workers surrounded the JJ Marg police station and insisted that a police case be registered against Dr Lahane under the Atrocities Act, for making a casteist remark.
Ravindra Shisve, deputy commissioner of police (zone-1), confirmed that a case had been registered but no arrest had been made so far. Officers from JJ Marg police station said that the investigation into the case will be carried out by the assistant commissioner of police.
The hospital's staff said that their sentiments were hurt. "It's upsetting to know that the dean has commented on our caste. In the past, we have tolerated insults, verbal abuse and manhandling by the authorities. Not only do we want the status of 'permanent' staffers, but we also demand to be treated equally," said Kishore Shelar, a ward boy.
Waghela said, "Lahane has no sense how to talk to people. We will continue with our strike until Lahane is arrested and suspended."
Police said that an inquiry would be conducted and only after the completion the course of action would be decided. An FIR was lodged under section 3(1), 10 Atrocities Act, 1987 and IPC 506, of the scheduled castes (Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989) which is a cognizable and a non-bailable offence.
Dr TP Lahane maintained that he had not made any offensive remark and that he was concerned about the cleanliness of the hospital. It's a well known fact that Dr Lahane scrubs corridors and pan stained walls and bird droppings himself or even collect garbage from the hospital premises to ensure it stays clean. "I was instructing the temporary workers to join work in the morning. All these are allegations against me are false. Yes, an FIR has been registered but I will apply for a bail," Dr Lahane told dna.