A daily wage worker engaged in manual scavenging work died while cleaning a sewage pit in an international school in Begur in Bengaluru on Saturday. The victim, 25-year-old Manu V, died of asphyxiation inside the pit. The incident took place in JaiHind international school in Begur. The Begur police have arrested the owner of the school, the principal and the coordinator.
“We received information about the incident after Manu was taken to hospital, where he was declared dead. When we reached the school to investigate, we found that the administrators had sent him inside the sewage pit. Nobody was overseeing the cleaning and he was alone inside the pit when he died,” a police official from Begur Police Station told TNM.
After a school staff saw Manu motionless in the pit, he was pulled out from the pit and rushed to a nearby hospital.
“A case was registered against three persons for hiring Manu to clean the pit. They have been produced before the court. While one accused has been granted bail, the other two accused are still in judicial custody," the police official added.
The accused have been booked under Section 304A (death due to negligence) of the IPC and under various sections of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013.
He was a resident of Hongasandra in the city. He is survived by his wife, Nandini, and a five-year-old daughter.
Nandini is yet to come to terms with the tragic incident. She was not aware that Manu was engaged in manual scavenging work since her husband had simply stated that he worked as a plumber. “I was not aware that he was working in the school and no one has yet come forward to help us since the incident. He used to do plumbing work and I did not know why the school authorities made him do this. We don’t know what needs to be done and we don’t have the money to do anything," Nandini told TNM.
According to a study, more than 80 persons engaged in manual scavenging work have been killed in Bengaluru in the last 10 years.
Since 1993, employing a manual scavenging worker is a cognisable offence with imprisonment and fine. The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act in 2013, and a Supreme Court ruling have also stated the same.
But this illegal and inhumane practice continues to be practised due to the lack of enforcement of the ban and the lack of alternatives provided by the government to ensure that humans are not engaged in cleaning sewers.