In UP, Prez Kovind urged to help Dalits give up manual scavenging | lucknow | Hindustan Times
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In UP, Prez Kovind urged to help Dalits give up manual scavenging

A ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment survey last year showed majority of the 10,000 plus Dalits still engaged in manual scavenging were women, most of them from UP.

lucknow Updated: Sep 15, 2017 13:43 IST
Manish Chandra Pandey
President Ram Nath Kovind garlanding Ambedkar’s statue at Ambedkar Mahasabha office in Lucknow.
President Ram Nath Kovind garlanding Ambedkar’s statue at Ambedkar Mahasabha office in Lucknow.(HT Photo)

President Ramnath Kovind chose Lucknow’s Ambedkar Mahasabha office as his first stop of the two-day visit to Uttar Pradesh beginning Thursday.

The influential Dalit organisation, in turn, took the opportunity to quickly remind the new President about how Dalits in UP and elsewhere are still engaged in manual scavenging.

The Mahasabha also requested the President to use his high office in ensuring that Ambedkar’s life and times, his student days, struggle and subsequent rise was taught in detail to students — from primary to higher education.

Lalji Nirmal, the Ambedkar Mahasabha chief, who had described Prime Minister Narendra Modi as ‘Daliton ke Ram’ during Modi’s visit in January 2016, largely used the 20 odd minutes of President Kovind’s visit to highlight the issue and ensure that manual scavengers were suitably re-employed.

Between 2014 and 2016, the union ministry of social justice and empowerment has spent more than Rs ₹22 crore as relief packages to assist Dalit families in UP in quitting scavenging.

“Still the problem persists in UP. There is great jubilation among Dalits since Kovindji became the President. Naturally, the expectations are high too, more so as Modi government is pursuing a Swacchh Bharat campaign and our demand is a part of it,” Nirmal told HT after the President left.

A ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment survey last year showed majority of the 10,000 plus Dalits still engaged in manual scavenging were women, most of them from UP.

Read| Uttar Pradesh a land that changes fortunes: Kovind

Kovind had earlier visited the Ambedkar Mahasabha office, where urns of Ambedkar, are kept on December 17, 2015 as governor of Bihar.

During his Thursday visit, the President also unveiled a ‘smriti stambh’ the Mahasabha has set up to commemorate Modi’s arrival on the Ambedkar campus in 2016.

Back then, the Mahasabha had set up a tea stall run by a Dalit on the campus to uniquely showcase before the PM the “nearly negligible” participation of Dalit community members in owning or running eateries and roadside tea and snack joints. Now, before the President the Mahasabha put up another demand; that of getting “landless and penniless” Dalits a piece of land, they can call their own. A hostel for Dalit students, including a separate one for community’s women, in each district was also among the demands made before the President.