Image Source: Dalit Awaaz
The Central Government of India has brought out a statement that mentions that India has had no deaths due to manual scavenging within the past five years. This statement was in the form of a written answer, by Social Justice Minister Ramjas Athawale, to a question asked by Congress MPs Mallikarjun Kharge and L. Hanumanthaiah, regarding the number of people engaged in manual scavenging who died in the past five years.
Social and human rights activist, and Safai Karamchari Andolan Convenor, Mr Bezwada Wilson has condemned this statement in the strictest manner, mentioning that a minimum of 472 people has passed away in the past five years while being engaged in manual scavenging, and cleaning human excreta, septic tanks and sewers, many times without protective types of equipment.
It should be kept in mind that according to the 2013 law against manual scavenging, the employment of people to clean septic tanks and sewers is prohibited. Mr Wilson mentions that not only is the job cruel and inhuman, but so is the statement that has been issued. He mentions that the number of deaths due to scavenging has had been reported in the previous Parliament, and yet, the total number is denied in the current one.
He blames the Government for not only being unable to prevent the loss of lives of citizens but for not even acknowledging their deaths. He mentions that instead of taking proper steps that would ensure the stopping of deaths during manual scavenging, the government is denying any deaths happening at all!
Mr Bezwada Wilson has demanded immediate repeal of the statement made in Parliament, and an apology for the same.