A South Delhi Municipal Corporation worker on Friday sprayed migrant labourers in Lajpat Nagar with disinfectant meant for cleaning roads, PTI reported. The municipal corporation called the incident a mistake, claiming that the worker could not handle the pressure of the jetting machine.
Scores of migrants had gathered on Friday outside the Hemu Kalani Senior Secondary School for health screening, before boarding a “Shramik Special” train to their hometowns. In video clips of the incident available on social media, a municipal corporation worker engaged in a sanitation drive can be seen spraying the labourers with disinfectant.
“The staff has already been instructed to be more careful and attentive while doing the job in future,” the South Delhi Municipal Corporation said in a statement. “The official present at the site apologised to public.”
Lajpat Nagar Councillor Sunil Sahdev told The Indian Express that the disinfectant was not sprayed intentionally. “As the school is in a residential colony, residents and representatives demanded that disinfection of the compound be carried out,” he said. “As per protocol, disinfectant spraying was being done in the evening in and around the school. Due to pressure from the jetting machine, the worker could not manage it for some moments.”
There have been quite a few incidents of migrant workers being sprayed with disinfectant, in the last two months, following the imposition of a nationwide lockdown to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.
On May 7, a video circulating on social media showed a municipal worker in protective gear spraying a boy outside Charbagh Railway Station with a bleach-and-water disinfectant. Such a disinfectant is meant only for surfaces and is not supposed to be used on human beings.
A similar incident took place in Bareilly district in Uttar Pradesh in March, when migrants returning to the district were made to sit in a group and sprayed with bleach. A video showed two people dressed in full protective gear spraying a group, including children, who were squatting on the road.
The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had said on March 30 that the incident was “an overzealous employee acting out of fear or ignorance”. It had asserted that action was taken “at the highest level” after the incident came to light.