Poll duty takes its toll: Unwell teacher denied leave, dies

Written By Unknown on Senin, 28 April 2014 | 22.23

MUMBAI: A teacher from Ulhasnagar collapsed while on poll duty on April 23 and died in hospital the next day, after being reportedly asked to continue working in the sweltering heat despite complaining of unease. Anant Sawale's (45) family and colleagues said his 15-year-old daughter was forced to stand in for him on poll duty even as he lay dying in hospital. She came to know of his death only late in the evening when she reached home.

Sawale's death comes days after Vaishali Bhale, the principal of New Bombay City High School at Koparkhairne, collapsed and died of a heart attack on April 24 during poll duty.

Sawale, an assistant teacher in the primary section of Takshashila Vidyalaya in Ulhasnagar, and colleague Siddharth Bhoir were assigned to distribute voter slips to Ulhasnagar residents on April 21.

Sawale complained of uneasiness and requested the officials concerned that he be taken off the duty, said another colleague Devidas Narwade. But the request was denied. Around noon on April 23, he collapsed and was rushed to a local hospital in Ulhasnagar by Bhoir. He was later referred to another private hospital in the town and then shifted to JJ Hospital, where he died the following day around 4pm.

Meanwhile, Sawale's daughter Jyoti, a class IX student, approached an election official on April 23 seeking exemption for her father but was asked to report at the polling booth in his place the next day. "My father wasn't keeping well the last few days. So when asked, I went to the polling station in his place on Election Day. I had no idea of his death until I reached home in the evening," she said from their native village near Dhule where Sawale's last rites were held on Sunday. The election officer even cleared a payment of Rs 400 to Jyoti for her work, Bhoir said, adding that Jyoti feared penal action on her father for not reporting for election duty.

Apart from Jyoti, Sawale is survived by his wife Ratna, elder daughter Savina and son Swapnil.

Madhavi Sardeshmukh, deputy election officer for Thane, said she had no information on the incident. "I have not heard of such a case yet. I will nevertheless ask the assistant returning officer to look into it. If such a thing has happened, then we will extend our full support to the family."

Sawale's colleagues said they too were busy with election duty and learnt of his death only late on Friday. They could not lodge a complaint as Saturday was a holiday. They are now demanding action against the election officer and a compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the family. Bhoir said they will register a complaint with the Special Development Officer on Monday.

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