Rama Thakur, a casual announcer for 15 years at All India Radio (AIR), Shimla, had on May 6 tweeted tagging the PM, Union ministers Prakash Javadekar and Nirmala Sitharaman, and Prasar Bharati CEO Shashi Vempati. In her tweet, Thakur asked if any government department was paying salaries of one or two months after keeping wages pending for six months. She cited extreme financial hardships. She also said casual workers would be driven to suicide for which the government would be responsible.
Everybody has a right to air grievances for non-payment of dues. Filing an FIR to cow down the individual is abuse of power and a crass display of intolerance. Such acts of intimidation must be discouraged and acted against.
“The irregularity in payment began in 2017 and became particularly erratic after 2019. We appealed to our seniors but when that did not work, I aired our grievances on Twitter,” Thakur told TOI over phone. Her programming head Umesh Kashyap told TOI he had discharged orders from Delhi.
An official who did not want to be identified admitted payments to casual announcers have been erratic, adding, “Who can run their homes with Rs 2,600 per month? This is a job they do as a hobby.”
The official said Thakur’s services have been per manently discontinued. AIR Casual Announcers and Comperes Union has written to Vempati in protest.