Ahead of polls, safai karamcharis put political parties on notice

Call for stricter implementation of manual scavenging laws

Coming together with a clear manifesto and demanding that political parties take note of their demands or face consequences, safai karamcharis on Thursday called for stricter implementation of laws against manual scavenging and a separate ministry for release and rehabilitation of manual scavengers.

A pre-poll manifesto released by the Safai Karamchari Andolan noted that there have been more than 1,800 documented deaths of people forced to manually clean septic tanks and manholes, with 31 of them being reported in the last three months.

Demanding a national apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the historical injustices against the community, Deepti Sukumar, a core convener of the Andolan, said, “The Prime Minister has remained silent even when faced with so many sewer deaths. We demand a response, an apology. How can this country be called a democracy when so many people are still being forced into this kind of dehumanising work? This is not a choice, our people are being forced.”

Clear manifesto

Bezwada Wilson, founder of the Safai Karamchari Andolan, noted that this was the first time that the safai karamchari community had come together with a clear manifesto and demanded accountability from political parties. Their other demands include increased compensation, government jobs, pension, health, housing and education benefits.

Usha, a State-level convener of the Andolan, said: “We don’t simply want money, we want jobs. We want government jobs. That is what will bring real change to the community.”

The manifesto calls for “government employment to at least one woman member in the household of every manual scavenger”. “Employment in the government sector is a guarantee to socio-economic empowerment. When a woman has a permanent public sector employment, she will not only empower herself but her entire family and community,” it said.

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Printable version | Jun 5, 2020 1:32:18 PM |

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