The Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist) Liberation has issued a statement stating that activist Zafar Hussein was lynched to death in Rajasthan for resisting photography and videography of women defecating in open. A statement by the CPI (ML)’s Pratapgarh district committee stated that, on June 16, Hussein was kicked, punched and beaten to death by municipal council employees at the instigation of Nagar Parishad commissioner Ashok Jain, who ordered to take photographs and videos of women from the Bagwasa Kachi village when they were going to defecate in the open. Zafar himself had submitted a memorandum to the Nagar Parishad few days back protesting against the campaign of public shaming and bullying of women for defecating in the open, the statement added. “In the memorandum, he had demanded community toilets and repairing of the non-functional public latrines constructed under the Swacch Bharat campaign. He had also unsuccessfully sought to submit the memorandum to the District Magistrate (DM) who had refused to accept it.” The CPI (ML) has demanded that Jain and others named in the FIR lodged in Zafar’s murder case should be arrested and given speedy punishment. “We demand that the Central Government and all State Government officially declare public shaming and lynch mob tactics in the guise of Swacch Bharat campaign to be illegal and punish officials promoting the use of such tactics,” the statement said.
The statement further said, “The drive to end open defecation cannot proceed on the basis of inflicting indignities on the poor and helpless people who have no access to private or public toilets. The present strategy of Open Defecation-Free villages (ODF) campaign is giving rise to corruption, fake claims and public humiliation of deprived people. The Governments must reverse this draconian strategy and unleash a positive campaign popularizing toilet use, with a focus on construction of toilets, assured availability of water, and proper arrangements for toilet-cleaning”.
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“All over the country, sanitation workers are fighting for their dignity and rights against oppressive and inhuman working conditions. It is highly unfortunate that the Rajasthan Government, which denies sanitation workers their due rights, used them as fodder in the public shaming and lynching campaign on the pretext of Swacch Bharat,” the statement added. The CPI (ML) has further appealed to all “the forces struggling against mob lynching, for women’s rights and dignity, and for sanitation workers’ rights, to unite in the struggle for justice for Zafar.”