Two essential service providers have complained that they are being harassed in their neighbourhoods for doing their job during the coronavirus outbreak.
A nurse at the Infectious Diseases and Beleghata General Hospital alleged her landlady had asked her not to return to the rented accommodation because coronavirus patients are being treated at her hospital and she could be a health hazard to neighbours.
A ground employee of IndiGo alleged she was being discriminated against and taunted by neighbours at her housing complex in Thakurpukur. Her mother, who stays with her, was allegedly refused grocery.
Ranita Karmakar Sarkar, the nurse, stays in a rented accommodation at Durganagar, near the airport.
“I was returning from my in-laws’ home in Kalyani when the landlady called up on my husband’s mobile on Sunday afternoon and asked about me. When I spoke to her, she wanted to know if I would be going to work on Monday. As I said ‘yes’, she told me that we should not stay there because I would pose a health risk to other residents,” Ranita said on Tuesday night.
Ranita, who graduated from the College of Medicine and JNM Hospital in Kalyani in 2001, has been working at the Beleghata hospital for four years. She said she could not believe that the community she was serving was distancing her for her service.
“I told the landlady that it was as good as the community distancing me because of the service I have been providing to the community,” said Ranita.
“Today I am realising how selfish man could get. I am a nursing staff at the Beleghata ID and BG Hospital…. Today the landlord is telling me that I should not return to the rented accommodation. Because I am a nursing staff at the hospital…” Ranita posted on Facebook on Sunday.
She warned her landlady through a relative that she would complain to police.
“I had this message conveyed to her through one of my relatives, who had arranged the accommodation. That has kept her quiet and I have been able to return home,” Ranita said.
The Resident Doctors’ Association and the West Bengal Doctors’ Forum wrote to the Union health ministry and chief minister Mamata Banerjee respectively, on Wednesday, complaining about harassment faced by health workers.
Ranita said an elderly nurse colleague was not allowed to board a bus on her way home from the hospital. “The 62-year-old nurse, who stays in New Town, waved at the bus to stop. But it did not. Later, it emerged that this was happening to a lot of employees at our hospital. Buses were refusing to stop near the hospital,” she said.
The IndiGo employee tweeted about her plight on Tuesday.
“People are spreading rumour in my locality that I am suffering the corona. First. Secondly, when I am not at my home, me and my mother stay together, that’s it and when I am not at home, they are coming and harassing my mother like anything. She cannot go to the market to buy the groceries because people are refusing her saying that your daughter has a corona and you might also have it and you are spreading to other people as well. So me earnest request is….”
Calcutta police swung into action after tracking the tweet.
“Senior officers have spoken to the lady. Local police station has been asked to lend her all possible assistance. Please rest assured, anyone discriminating against heroes discharging their duties risking their own safety will be dealt with strictly,” read a post on the Calcutta police Facebook page.