Two lamps burn in memory of the two children. (Image: Handout to agencies)Two lamps burn in memory of the two children. (Image: Handout to agencies)

Two children, both Dalits, beaten to death in India for defecating in public

Two children, Roshni (12) and Avinash (10, her nephew), were beaten to death in Madhya Pradesh, India. The two children were from the Dalit community – former untouchables, and were openly defecating in the public when two men Hakam Singh and Rameswhar Singh attacked the duo with sticks. They were defecating in public because they did not have a toilet in their home.

The incident has sparked two debates:

  • The issue of untouchability: The two children were from the Dalit community, the former ‘untouchables’. While ‘discrimination based on caste’ is illegal in modern day India, the practice is said to be widely prevalent. The family of the victim said an altercation ensued the thrashing of their children, in which the accused duo butted them off with racist slurs. The fathers of the children were heard saying to the media that ‘there are a lot of untouchability issues in their village’ ranging from ‘prohibition of lower caste children mingling with children of the upper caste’ to denial of a toilet under the state scheme because they were ‘lower-caste’.

 

  • Lack of Toilets: On 2nd October, 2019, India is going to declare itself an Open Defecation Free (ODF) nation – but thousands were saying the nation had not achieved the status yet – the incident proves so. In 2014, Indian PM Modi launched the Swachh Bharat (Clean India) campaign, where one of the ambitious target was to ensure one toilet each household. Subsequently, more than 100 million toilets were built – however the problem is not 100% eradicated. Bhaukhedi village, where the two families live, had been declared ODF in 2018, but that Valmiki’s house did not have a toilet.

Meanwhile the accused duo have been arrested. According to the police, ‘the accused are mentally stable and have admitted to their crime’. The district magistrate visited them on Thursday and gave two cheques of INR 400,000 (NRS 640,000) as compensation.

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