75 Dalit workers have been killed in 34 incidents of manual scavenging in the last ten years in Karnataka.

Call them murders 75 manual scavenging deaths in Ktaka in 10 yrs zero convictions
news Manual Scavenging Wednesday, January 31, 2018 - 17:47

In the wake of three more deaths of manual scavengers at a posh apartment complex in Bengaluru earlier this month, activists in Bengaluru called for the deaths to be termed ‘murder’ and questioned why no one has been arrested in connection with them yet.

In fact, the activists allege that the police is not serious about booking apartment owners in such cases – illustrated by the fact that in the last 10 years, not a single person has been convicted in the state for the death of these workers.

According to the All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU), 75 Dalit workers have been killed in 34 incidents of manual scavenging in the last ten years in Karnataka.

Questioning the lack of outrage against the deaths, All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU) state president S Balan said, “All 75 workers are Hindus. When Deepak Rao died, there were protests in coastal Karnataka. Same was the case when other RSS and Hindu workers died. Why are the deaths of these Hindus ignored? Are they not Hindus? Why do the so called custodians of Hindu culture not raise their voice against this?”

On January 7, Narayana Swamy (35), Mahadeva Gowda (42) and Srinivas (52) died after they had gone down a manhole inside the premises of ND Sepal Apartments in Somasundara Palya in HSR Layout.

No one has been arrested in connection with the incidents. While in some cases like the ND Sepal Apartments in HSR Layout, apartment owners were booked for negligence. “Someone should take responsibility for these deaths. Booking them for negligence is not enough. This is a murder,” added Balan.

Vinay K Sreenivasa of Alternative Law Forum (ALF) pointed out that no political party has taken steps to address the issue.

“They (the incidents) have happened when Kumaraswamy was CM, when Yeddyurappa was CM and now under Siddaramaiah and nobody gets arrested. If you can’t arrest officials, then we will protest and you can arrest us,” he said.

The AICCTU along with Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist)(CPI-ML), BBMP Guttige Powara Karmikara Sangha and the BWSSB Guttige Karmikara Sangha will come together to protest against untouchability, caste prejudice and the continued practice of manual scavenging in Bengaluru’s Town Hall on February 7.  

Manual scavenging is banned across India, but that hasn't stopped people in various places from making human beings enter manholes and sewers.

In March 2017 too, three persons engaged to clean a manhole had died due to unsafe conditions. At that time, it was a government body - BWSSB - which had outsourced the three persons to manually clean the sewer. 2 more persons were killed in May 2017 in Ubdur village in Mysuru and in an apartment in Whitefield. 

Employing a manual scavenger has been made a cognisable offence with imprisonment and fine since 1993, the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act in 2013, and a Supreme Court ruling state the same.

But the banned practice continues to flourish across the country as the ban has not been enforced properly by the government or private parties.

In March 2017 too, three persons engaged to clean a manhole had died due to unsafe conditions. At that time, it was a government body - BWSSB - which had outsourced the three persons to manually clean the sewer. 2 more persons were killed in May 2017 in Ubdur village in Mysuru and in an apartment in Whitefield. 

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