An Ahmedabad-based NGO is in the eye of a storm over an advertisement inviting application from general category candidates for the post of sanitation workers that many believe are meant only for those from the lower castes.
The advertisement by Human Development and Research Centre (HDRC) that works for the rights of Dalits and tribals triggered protests and vandalism, prompting its director, Prasad Chacko, to go underground. The NGO is run by St Xavier’s Non-Formal Education Society.
The recruitment notice with Chacko’s signature was put up at HDRC’s office in April in a bid to promote social equality, the NGO officials said. They said it was removed a couple of weeks later following little response.
The NGO had invited applications for the job of sanitation workers saying preference will be given to members of upper castes like Brahmins and Kshatriyas and Patels, Jains, Vaniyas, Parsis, Saiyads, Pathans and Syrian Christians.
The controversy erupted last week after its photographs went viral on the internet. Several groups angered by the advertisement have urged police to book the director for attempting to divide people on the basis of caste.
Some members of the caste mentioned in the notice reportedly resorted to vandalism at the premises of the NGO on St Xavier’s College campus last week. The NGO, however, has not filed any police complaint in this connection.
Following the protests, the NGO issued a statement saying it did not intend to “hurt the sentiments” of any caste, religion or community, and “if anybody is hurt we are genuinely sorry”.
Even as NGO officials said that the objective of recruitment drive was to give impetus to the Swachh Bharat mission and ensure social equality, protesters – which included members of the Brahmo Samaj, Police Lok Seva Raskshak Samiti and NSUI – claimed that the motive was to promote enmity between different groups.
They have given an application to Gujarat University police against Chacko under Indian Penal Code’s section 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc, and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony).
“Our priority is to douse the issue. We are in talks with all the groups (which had opposed the advertisement) to resolve the issue,” Chacko told Hindustan Times.
He refused to comment whether the advertisement has been withdrawn or if anyone applied for the job.
Police said an investigation is underway.