Days after two Dalit children were allegedly beaten to death for defecating in the open in Shivpuri district of Madhya Pradesh, the Jal Shakti Ministry Friday cited the incident to issue an advisory to all states that “no coercion should be used to ensure ODF in any area” in the country.
On Wednesday, the MP police arrested two brothers for killing two Dalit children, a 10-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl, in Bhavkhedi village.
The boy’s father Manoj Valmiki, told police that the brothers objected to the two children defecating in the open near their house and beat them to death with sticks. Incidentally, the village had been declared open defecation free on April 4, 2018.
In the advisory to all Chief Secretaries, the Jal Shakti Ministry said: “As you are aware, positive behaviour change for adoption of safe sanitation practices as well as ensuring that no one is left behind, are key to achieve the goal of the Swachh Bharat Mission.”
Signed by Additional Secretary Arun Baroka, the advisory said, “However, some recent media reports have been brought to the notice of this department which are showing that certain forms of inappropriate actions, extreme coercive actions (particularly instance of Shivpuri district, Madhya Pradesh), are still being practised. In this regard, this Department had already issued advisory on 25th July 2017 suggesting the states to avoid any coercive measures for ensuring construction and usage of toilets.”
“It is reiterated that coercive action taken by anybody, including government or elected officials or private individuals with respect to sanitation behaviour of any kind is totally unacceptable under any circumstance. In such cases, the concerned authorities should prosecute the guilty to the fullest extent of the applicable law.”
The advisory also said that in the spirit of “no one should be left behind” of the government’s ODF program, it was the responsibility of the state and the district to ensure that toilets are made available to each household.
The two accused involved in the Shivpuri incident, identified as Hakam Yadav and his brother Rameshwar Yadav, were arrested for murder under the IPC and the provisions of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.