Bhopal: The applications to construct toilet under Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) and home under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yogna (PMAY) by the dalit family—whose children were killed for defecating in the open—were rejected by the sarpanch months ago. The incident took place in Madhya Pradesh’s Shivpuri district on Wednesday, September 25.
Manoj (45), father of the minor children, holds a below poverty level (BPL) card and is eligible for all central government policies meant for a BPL card holder. The family has been getting free rice, wheat, kerosene oil, etc. every month.
Just like other BPL card holders, Manoj applied for PMAY and toilet under the SBM, but several months after the application, sarpanch informed that his application has been rejected.
Confirming it, district collector of Shivpuri Anugraha P said, “Around 252 toilets have been constructed in the Bhavkhedi panchayat and the districts became ODF (open defecation free) on April 2, 2018, however, Manoj’s family was left out.”
However, she didn’t state the reason of rejection.
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While the employment assistant, Shiv Singh Rawat, who was responsible for constructing toilets in the area first said that they don’t use toilets despite having it. When informed that the family has claimed that they haven’t got any toilet, Rawat quickly changed his statement and claimed, “He got the money, but he didn’t construct it.” On being asked to present proof to support his claim, he again changed his statement and said, “The toilet has been approved only to Manoj’s father Kalla, not to him.”
Manoj alleged that his application has been rejected out of jealousy. “We are five brothers and we are untouchables for upper caste men. They don’t want us in the village, neither they hire us for any work, so, they intentionally rejected my application. If we had a toilet, our children would have been alive.”
According to Manoj, sarpanch Suraj Singh Yadav had not even briefed the reason of denial to Manoj, and only informed that both his applications for PMAY and toilet has been rejected.
The two minors, Roshni (12) and Avinash (10), who were students of standard 7 and 5, respectively, were defecating in open on the roadside in the vicinity of the house of the accused Hakim Yadav and Rameshwar Yadav on Wednesday morning. Both brothers, objected, filmed their act and hit on both minor’s head with a stick. The duo succumbed to their injuries later.
The violence took place 25 kilometres from the district headquarter.
As the news broke out and the issue received national attention, the police arrested both the accused and charged them under various sections of the IPC.
As they were homeless and living in a shanty, not only the children, but the parents too were defecating in open. Even after the incident, the parents continue to defecate in the open.
Days after the incident, the district administration has given ex-gratia of Rs 4.12 lakh to the kin for each death.
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Residents of Jatav mohalla claim that more than 80 families were left out of schemes. “Around 180 homes were sanctioned in the panchayat under PMAY and SBM schemes, but, the sarpanch returned them all saying everyone is well off here and no one needs it, though, more than 80 families of Jatav mohalla have been left out,” said Narayni Jatav, a resident.
Ironically, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to announce the country 100% open defecation free on October 2, while, just like Manoj, countless people have been left out of the schemes.
Fact finding team
Leaders of Dalit Shoshan Mukti Manch, Rambabu Jatav and Akhilesh Yadav, who visited the area claimed that untouchability is still rampant in the area. The upper caste men allow members of the Balmiki community (to which Manoj belongs) to fetch only after they have first got it.
“People of Balmiki community claimed that, they (upper caste men) wash the hand pump as they finish fetching water. They don’t hire Balmikis to work in the field,” said Jatav.
Jatav further said, “The teachers of government school, where they (children of the Balmiki community) study, not only isolate them from other children, but also ask them to clean toilets.”
While another member of the fact finding team, Akhilesh Yadav, said, “The children have been killed because the upper caste men wanted to reinstate their hegemony.”
"The administration should not only ensure proper security to the community and try to eradicate untouchability but also conduct a survey of those needy people who were left out the schemes," he added.