Strict action against the perpetrators of manual scavenging in Shravanabelagola, Hassan
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Manual scavenging has been banned in India under the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act 2013.
But recently during a religious festival held at Shravanbelegola in Hassan District of Karnataka, the organizers built temporary insanitary latrines and employed dalit workers brought from Uttar Pradesh to clean these in open violation of the 2013 Act and a punishable offence under Sec 8 and 9 of the Act. Additionally, employing dalit workers for manual scavenging is a crime as per Section 3(1)(j) of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989 as amended in 2016.
The violations of the law were reported by The Hindu on Jan 27, 2018 following which both the Karnataka State Safai karmachari Commission and the Revenue Department had ordered demolition of these latrines. Inspite of the warnings the organisers went ahead with the practice and there is visual evidence of the same.
Instead of taking legal action against the organizers, the Deputy Commissioner of the district has infact justified the practice.The Newsminute had quoted the Deputy Commissioner saying: “The Tyagis are Digambar Jains and are set in their ways. They don't use the sanitary toilets that we use”. The township has been divided into 12 Nagars and Tyagi Nagar is being looked after by the Jain Mutt. The Safai Karamchari Commission and the Revenue Secretary has issued a notice to the mutt, but the religious leaders said that they will defecate in the open since it is their custom.”
Manual scavenging is a casteist practice not only because it burdens dalits with the indignity of cleaning human excreta but also because the rest of the society takes part in this by remaining silent about this practice.
The Chief Secretary of Karnataka should direct the Police to file criminal cases against
· the Organizers of the religious festival at Shravanabelegola in Hassan district
· the Deputy Commissioner of the district
under the relevant provisions of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act 2013 and the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989 as amended in 2016.
Sign our petition to ensure that we break the impunity with which manual scavenging is practiced.
Dr. Sylvia Karpagam
1. `Shravanabelagola latrines run afoul of manual scavenging law,’ The Hindu, Jan 27, 2018.
2. ‘Law banning manual scavenging can’t be violated in the name of religious practice,’ The Hindu, Jan 29, 2018.
3. ‘Panel orders closure of insanitary toilets in Shravanabelagola’, The Hindu, Jan 31, 2018.
4. `Are Manual Scavengers being employed at Jain Festival at Hassan?’, The News Minute, Feb 03, 2018.
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