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Rajasthan man lynched: Locals resent govt policy of naming, shaming open defecators; say they don’t have choice

In Pithoragarh district of Rajasthan, a man was lynched allegedly by sanitation officials for protesting against photography of women defecating in the open

jaipur Updated: Jun 18, 2017 11:54 IST
Salik Ahmad
Salik Ahmad
Hindustan Times
Lynching,Muslim man,Open defecation
The community toilet at Jagwas Kachchi Basti of Pratapgarh district. None of the toilets here are functional.(Salik Ahmad)

Click a photo of people defecating in the open, and name and shame them. For the officials involved in the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, this is the simplest and the most effective way to make people give up the habit of reliving themselves in the open.

The “simple act”, however, has not gone down well with those at the end.

A man who protested against civic officials clicking photographs of some women defecating in the open at Jagwas Kachchi Basti of Pratapgarh district was brutally beaten up resulting in his death.

The locals are angry at the death of Zafar Hussain. They are also angry at the approach that the officials have taken to deter them from defecating in the open.

It’s not a matter of choice for them, they say.

“They tell us to use the community toilets, but are they worth using?” asks an angry Shamim, a widow who works as daily wage labourer to support her six children. “In addition, they charge Rs 5 for one time use. For the entire family, the expense will come to Rs 35 for one time use,” she adds.

The toilets were in bad shape earlier, and although they have been renovated recently, they are still unusable, the villagers claim. When HT visited the community toilet, the centre painted bright yellow, all 10 were found soiled, stinking, and far from being in usable condition.

Municipal commissioner Ashok Jain says owing to situation on Friday, they could not get it checked, “otherwise the municipality gets them cleaned regularly”.

However, it appeared that the toilets had not been cleaned in weeks.

The water tank outside the toilets is filled with muddy water. The village faces a water crisis and this is another reason that prevents people from using the community toilets, which requires more water compared to the little quantity needed when they do it in the open.

A little distance from the toilets, two young girls are seen filling containers scooping water from a pothole. On a closer look, it emerges that the pothole is being replenished by a leakage from a water pipeline running below.

The photographing of women to shame them has only reinforced the discontent among the residents. “If they want to tell us something, can’t they do it with some dignity?” asks Shahida.

“Please get photos of us defecating deleted from their phones,” she urges.

According to residents, the release of money for construction of toilets at home is another major problem. “At other places, they give Rs 12,000. Here they said they will give us Rs 8,000 but don’t even give that,” alleges Shahida.

Rashida Bi, the wife of deceased Zafar Hussain, reiterates the same point. “Give money to construct toilets in every house, then nobody will go out to defecate in the open,” she says.

The locals say that less than a fifth of the nearly 450 houses in the locality have toilets at their home.

First Published: Jun 17, 2017 21:16 IST