Ten right to Pee activists were detained at Malabar Hill police station on Sunday afternoon after they assembled in front of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’ bungalow Varsha. To mark World Toilet Day, observed on November 19, the activists said they wanted to show the CM the “true picture” of an open defecation free (ODF) city by showing pictures of areas where people continue to defecate in the open.
The Right to Pee campaign, started in 2011, is a collaborative effort of 33 non-profit organisations which aim to draw attention to the lack of free, clean and safe public toilets for women in Mumbai. The activists from the Committee of Resource Organisation (CORO) gathered in front of Varsha around 12:15 pm to meet the chief minister.
“We told the guards and police personnel outside the CM’s bungalow to let us inside. As it was World Toilet Day, we just wanted to meet the chief minister. We had a bucket and collage of pictures showing how in certain areas, including M ward, people continue to defecate in the open,” said Supriya Sonar from CORO.
“The security personnel asked us to go back, otherwise they threatened to detain us. When we refused to back out, they took us to the police station. We sat there for five hours, where we were asked to dispose of the photos. They threatened to book us. We left the police station around 5 pm,” she added.
“We detained them as they refused to listen to us. They did not have permission to meet the CM. No case was lodged against them,” said a police officer. Sonar said they later sent an email to Fadnavis but had got no response till evening. “While the government claims each of us is a beneficiary of many resources under the ‘Mi Labharthi’ (I am a beneficiary) campaign, we wanted to show how women do not have proper toilets in the city,” she added.