(Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan, Jan 27, 2013)
Update Maila Mukti Yatra
We are happy to share Update 4 of Maila Mukti Yatra with you. Maila Mukti Yatra has started with a nationwide call for total eradication of manual scavenging practice from Bhopal on 30th November 2012. Through the Yatra, Caravan of liberated women and social activist are able to liberate thousands of manual scavengers in different parts of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Orissa; Yatra interned in Andhra Pradesh from Vijaynagaram on 22nd December 2012. During 22nd December 2012 to 17th January 2013 Yatra travelled in 54 districts of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan.
During the Yatra we liberated Dalit women those were engaged in the practice by women leaders who already left manual scavenging. Yatra has been associated and sensitized other sections of the society and involved them in this liberation movement. It has provided common platform to the liberated women to fight for their rights; rehabilitation and increasing the government will to address the issue, including new legislation. During the Yatra liberated women and activists continuously travelling, singing Bhajan and liberation songs, conducting community meetings with manual scavengers for liberation from this inhuman practice, conducting activities with Dalit children, burning the baskets, meetings with government officers and politicians, eradicating untouchability in public places, foot march in the villages and towns, mobilization of larger dalit community to support this liberation movement.
40 year old Choti Bai from Rajasthan was forced to clean human excreta with her bare hands when she was a child, until a few years back when she was rescued. There are thousands of women like her who still perform this
illegal practice because of their gender and their caste. Along with hundreds of women, a month back she started a tour across India to create awareness in India, rescue more women like her and take these demands to PM Manmohan
Singh telling him to end this practice of Manual Scavenging in India.
Under the Maila Mukti Yatra Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan launched a Mobile Campaign with the active participation of Amnesty International for demanding the total eradication of inhuman slavery of manual scavenging and support to Maila Mukti Yatra by calling this number 09266638869. More than 1000 signatures and 250 voices massages we have received to support the Yatra.
Some News links:
Maila Mukti Yatra was organized in 8 cities as mentioned below and press conference held at Press Club Hyderabad on 25th December 2012. Door to Door rally took place in Vizayanaram and we identified more than 800 workers are still engaged in the manual scavenging practice (clearing septic tank, dry toilets and railway tracks). Community meeting took place in Giripurm locality of Vijaywada where 40 houses were involved in practice; mainly cleaning septic tanks, sewage lines and open defecation cleaning are the forms of manual scavenging. Community Meeting held at Valimkinagar, near Charminar of Hyderabad and our estimation is that more than 1500 are municipal workers those are working contractual basis are engaged in manual scavenging work. The Dalit Alliance and JaiBharat, Hyderabad provided local support during the Yatra.
We had meeting with Arundhtiyar community in Pallavaram area of Chennai. Largely municipal workers were involved in clearing septic tanks and manholes. Mainly three communities are involved in manual scavenging practice in Tamilnadu such are Aadhi Andra (Madiga's), Arundhtiyar's and Thotti community. Aadhi Andhra community people are mainly working in areas those are close to Andhra Pradesh state; Arundhtiyar community is residing in central region of the state and Thotti community is in coastal area. TAMS, Chennai coordinated the event in Chennai. According to the Census of India 2011, where the human excreta are cleaned up by humans. Importantly, 36,986 dry latrines are exists in Tamilnadu where human excreta cleaned up by manual Scavengers. In addition, 18493 are such dry latrines where animal are cleaning human excreta and 147944 are such dry latrine where night soil is disposed into open drain. However, as per our knowledge even such dry latrines are cleaned by workers involved in manual scavenging. Therefore, at present in Tamilnadu state there are 2,03,423 dry latrines exists where manual scavenging practice is continues.
KGF: Maila Mukti Yatra reached Kollar Gold Field on 30th December and conducted community meeting at Telguline, Kandeebasti of Kollar Gold Field. Mainly Madiga community people are engaged in manual scavenging practice. Presently 40 families are engaged in septic tanks cleaning and open drainage lines. Moreover, last year, 3 workers died while cleaning septic tanks in Kollar Gold filed. Even after receiving compensations of Rs 3 lack to each their families but still family members are engaged in work. Next day morning the Rally was organized from Telgu Line to Municipal Corporation office and liberated women had given memorandum to Municipal Commissioner to stop manual scavenging practice in KGF. From KGF Yatra travelled to Pavaguda on 31st December and had community
meeting. 'Scavengers Vigilance Committee' and PUCL, Karnataka organized meetings in Pavaguda. Approximately 750 workers are workings on contract basis mainly cleaning septic tank and open defecation area. From Pavaguda the Yatra travelled to Bangalore city.
Maila Mukti Yatra was welcomed in Mangalweda village of Solapur district and headed towards
Pandharpur, Pune, Thane and Mumbai. Pandarpur is important pilgrimage in Maharashtra. Every year close to 10
lakh devotee gather in Pandharpur. Through local activist we found out that there is a shortage of 13,000 public toilets in Pandharpur town to cater to the influx of pilgrims. This leads to defecation in the open and employment
of manual scavengers. Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce & Industry (DICCI) and Nirman provided local support to
Yatra in Pune. Pune and Thane are no different than rural part. Here people are employed as Sweeper and ask to clean dry toilet, septic tank.
Navsarjan Trust coordinated and hosted the Yatra in Gujarat. We visited districts like Surat, Navasari, Bharuch, Anand, Ahmedabad and Himatnagar. In each district we had community meeting and press conference. According to government records, in Gujarat, there are 2566 dry latrines and an additional 4890 dry latrines where night soil is serviced by animals and 25,234 dry latrines where night soil is disposed into a drain. But the numbers are higher than that government estimation. Navsarjan Trust estimated 65000 manual scavengers working in Gujarat. Importantly, community people supported the yatra by financial contribution of Rs 2500. Navsarjan Trust and Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan organized a joint press conference at BSC, St. Xavier's College, Ahmadabad.
Through the campaign, we had organized community meetings in Udaipur, Bhilwara, Chittod, Hudda, Ajmer, Pushkar, Purani Basti of Jaipur and Koutputali of Rajasthan. Representatives from Safai Karmchari Andolan also participated
in Raipur event. In Bhansoda village five women manual scavengers got liberated and women took initiative to eradicate untouchability practice by drinking tea at village tea stall which was not allowed earlier for Valimiki
community. After that Yatra had community meetings in Hudda and Udaipur city where totally 11 women liberated. Chairperson of State Commission for Safai Karmcharies also participates in community event at Bhilwara and presented
the work don by state government on manual scavenging issue. Participant women of Yatra also presented the issues regarding the manual scavenging, untouchability and discrimination in Rajasthan.
The culmination of Yatra will be organized at Annexy, Constitution Club, Rafi Marg, New Delhi on 31st January 2013 at 12.00 noon. We request your participation for culmination program of this Yatra which will provide a lot of support to the cause.
Ashif Shaikh and