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Woman? Not fit for this job

Tamluk, March 14: A woman in East Midnapore has accused a lady Trinamul panchayat pradhan of not allowing her to join as a 100-day job scheme supervisor because of her gender.

Mahishadal resident Ritu Maity Rana, 25, has also accused Betkundu gram panchayat pradhan Madhumita Das Halder of telling her that she would not be allowed to join as a gram rozgar sevak, a contractual job given by the state government, if she and her husband did not campaign for Trinamul for the Lok Sabha elections.

Ritu said she received the appointment letter from the block development officer of Mahishadal, Tanmay Banerjee, on February 21 after qualifying in an interview. “When I went to the panchayat office, the pradhan refused to let me join work. On February 24, I met the BDO and narrated my plight,” Ritu said.

She said that for the next four days, she stayed at the office of the panchayat, which oversees work under the central rural job scheme, from 10am to 5pm, but Das Halder refused to meet her.

“On March 3, the BDO wrote to the panchayat pradhan directing her to allow me to take up the post. But the pradhan said the job could not be given to me because I was a woman,” Ritu alleged.

Ritu then lodged a complaint with district magistrate Antara Acharya.

Ritu’s husband Prabir Rana, a laboratory assistant in a polytechnic college, said: “I had been a Trinamul worker since the party was formed. But I withdrew myself a year ago following a tussle with the members of a local club.”

Prabir said the local Trinamul leadership had told him to “settle the dispute amicably” and start campaigning for the party. “But I refused. So my wife is being denied the job.”

Panchayat chief Das Halder claimed Ritu had not approached her with any appointment letter, but added that she was against the recruitment of women for the job of supervisor. “It is true that I am personally against taking any woman for this kind of a job. A job scheme supervisor has to do a lot of travelling, which is difficult for a woman. We need men for the post,” she said.

Das Halder, however, contested the allegation that Ritu had been prevented from joining the post because of the family’s reluctance to campaign for Trinamul.

A district official said several women were working as supervisors in East Midnapore’s 23 blocks. “Gender can’t be a ground for refusal to let her join,” he said.