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Attempted suicide by nurse at CSI Hospital, Kancheepuram, due to casteist harassment

Attempted suicide by nurse at CSI Hospital, Kancheepuram, due to harassment of the casteist hospital director

(Message from Makkal Mandram)

Dear Friends,

An incident has happened in CSI Hospital Kancheepuram. Jacqueline, a nurse working in the hospital for more than 15 years, swallowed a lot of pills yesterday while on duty and is in a critical condition. She has left a behind a note naming the Director of CSI Hospital, Dr. Brinda Nirmal as the person responsible for her taking this extreme step. Dr. Brinda Nirmal abused both Jacqueline and her husband Soloman (who is also a staff at the hospital) yesterday before the whole hospital. She abused them calling them caste names and threatened to sack them.The staff say that this is routine for the director (abusing and shouting at staff, throwing them out of hospital physically and resorting to a lot more discriminatory and arbitrary practices) but Jacqeline was unable to take this mental torture any more.

Dr. Brinda Nirmal is the Director of CSI Hospital Kancheepuram since last two years and has been accused of harassing the staff of the hospital including nurses, drivers, ward boys, gardeners etc earlier also. Around 90% of the staff are Dalits and have faced constant harassment at the hands of this director who belongs to a dominant caste. Apart from verbal abuse, she has imposed arbitrary fines and penalties and deducted it from the salaries of the staff. Further, she has transferred and terminated the services of several members of the staff on her whims and fancies, without following properly laid down procedures. The staff have complained that she is casteist and vindictive towards them.

There is an ongoing struggle against her by the staff who have been campaigning for her removal for the past several months. The staff was on strike for a period of 11 days in April 2012. At this time the RDO and SP of Kancheepuram had intervened and brought about a settlement between both sides. However, the Director has gone back on the agreement and is still indulging in practices like transferring the staff, calling them extremely abusive names, resorting to caste discrimination, and threatening to fire them at her sweet will.

At this moment, some fifty persons, including staff of the hospital, members of Makkal Mandram (a local human rights organization that is supporting the struggle of the staff) and some lawyers, have been arrested by the Kancheepuram police and are being held at the local Udaya Mahal Thirumana Mandapam, for holding a protest demonstration against the Director demanding that she should be booked for abetment of suicide since Jacqueline named her very clearly in her note.

However, the police have refused to file a FIR against the Director for abetment to suicide, despite the fact that Jacqueline's condition is very critical. Jacqueline's declaration before the magistrate could not be recorded so far as she is still unconscious.

The dalit staff members need your support to highlight their plight and abuse at the hands of this casteist director.

Yours truly,

Makkal Mandram

Mahesh / Jessy - 9585430895 / 9585430894

~~

Via Geeta Charusivam, who also adds:

From what news I got just now it appears that the detained persons would be remanded while the director would go scotfree.

A case has been booked on some 40-50 persons (including staff, lawyers and members of Makkal Mandram, a people's organisation) who had gathered in CSI Hospital today to decide the next course of action. The director has given a false complaint against these persons of trying to forcibly enter her office, attack some of her sidekicks and cause damage to property. The police has acted immediately on this false complaint and booked a case under Crime No. 946/2012 and charged all of them under Section 143 (punishment for unlawful assembly), Section 341 (punishment for wrongful restraint) and Section 188 (Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant). All these persons including (22 women) are being held in a local marraige hall right now. The processes happening right now suggest that they will be remanded to judicial custody by this evening.

However, the Director of the Hospital, Dr. Brinda Nirmal, who belongs to the dominant caste and has money and muscle power to back her is left scotfree, even though she is directly responsible for the drastic step taken by Jacqueline. Not just Jacqueline and Solomon, but majority of the staff members are facing constant harassment and severe pressure from the Director. I had met Jacqueline in April during their last round of agitation and remember her as a brave and strong woman, who was leading all her colleagues in their struggle against blatant caste oppression at the workplace. That she was pushed into taking such an action only show the tremendous pressure and frustration she was under. Jacqueline's life hangs in balance right now. We need to gather our forces together and act now so that she and her colleagues get the justice they have been denied all along.

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