Pune: 4 people died while cleaning sewers, Exposes Deep-Rooted Caste Discrimination in India
Four individuals lost their lives due to suffocation inside a drainage chamber in Baramati tehsil in Pune district of Maharashtra, India on March 15, 2023. The deceased included Praveen Atole, who had entered the chamber to clean a motor pipe clogged with cattle dung and urine. While working, he lost consciousness and his father went in to save him, but also collapsed. Two more people then entered the chamber and also suffocated.
This tragic incident highlights the prevalence of manual scavenging in India and the deep-rooted issue of caste discrimination. Manual scavenging is often performed by members of the Scheduled caste community, despite being prohibited by law in India since 1993.
According to the National Commission for Safai Karamcharis, an estimated 2.5 million people still engage in manual scavenging in India. Many individuals are forced to take on this dangerous profession due to their caste status, poverty, lack of education, and skills.
The deaths of these four individuals in Baramati serve as a stark reminder of the hazards faced by manual scavengers on a daily basis.
May day: Two Workers Die of Suffocation While Cleaning Septic Tank at Tamil Nadu School
Two sanitation workers died after inhaling poisonous gas while cleaning a septic tank at a private school in Tamil Nadu’s Thiruvallur district on International Workers’ Day.
On May 1, Govindan and Subburayalu were sent to clean the septic tank at a private school in Thiruvallur. Govindan was an employee of the Meenjur panchayat, while Subburayalu was a contract worker. Unfortunately, as they entered the septic tank, they inhaled toxic fumes and lost consciousness.
This news comes when the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, M.K. Stalin was celebrating International labour day.
The Fire and Rescue service were immediately called to retrieve their bodies. They used a rope harness and safety equipment to pull the workers out of the septic tank. The bodies were then sent for autopsy at the Ponneri Government Hospital.
After the incident, the Meenjur Police registered a case and detained Simiyon Victor, the principal of the school, for questioning. Simiyon stated that the two men were sent by Meenjur panchayat officials for cleaning work. However, the panchayat officials denied allocating any sanitation work to the duo on May Day.
TMC Minister Firhad Hakim uses Casteist Slurs in a Speech, Sparks Outrage
Kolkata Mayor and TMC minister Firhad Hakim has come under fire for allegedly using casteist slurs during a speech at a rally in Murshidabad district of West Bengal. The incident has triggered outrage among the public and various political parties.
Founder of Mission Ambedkar, Suraj Kumar Baudh, tagged the Chairman of National Scheduled Castes Commission, Vijay Sampla, on Twitter, urging him to take action against Hakim under the SC-ST PoA Act. In his tweet, he also stated that “caste slurs are not satire.”
The casteist slur used by Hakim during his speech was “Chori-Chamari,” which is illegal under the SC/ST POA Act.
The viral speech video has sparked widespread condemnation from on social media, and people are demanding strict action against the minister.
After the outrage on Twitter, Vijay Sampla tweets in Hindi tagging the NationalCommission of Scheduled Caste: The allegations are very serious. @NCSC_GoI Will investigate the matter and take legal action.
Canadian city of Burnaby becomes first to include caste as a protected category in equity policy
Burnaby, a city in British Columbia, Canada, has become the first city in the country to include caste as a protected category in its equity policy, according to a report by the Hindustan Times. “City Council approved an update the City’s Equity Policy to include ‘caste’ as a protected category,” stated the post on the city’s website.
The motion was passed unanimously, according to Council member Sav Dhaliwal. Dhaliwal stated that the move was an acknowledgement of a problem that exists and a step towards finding solutions. “It’s an acknowledgement of a problem that exists and that’s the start of the search for solutions,” he said to Hindustan Times.
The motion was initially passed by the executive committee of the Council on April 5, after the Vancouver-based Chetna Association of Canada brought the issue to their attention. In proposing the update to the city’s equity policy, Dhaliwal and fellow councillor Richard T Lee wrote to the Mayor and all Council members that the executive committee had “expressed concern that casteism, a social hierarchy passed down through families that has been outlawed in India since 1948, is still being practiced in Canada and where some South Asian populations exist.”
Jai Birdi, the general secretary of the Chetna Association of Canada, welcomed the decision, saying, “Adding caste as a protected category sends a strong message that the city values diversity and does not tolerate any kind of harassment or oppression, including the one based on caste. This also provides a framework for staff training and enhancing awareness as well as equity.” Harmesh Chander, Chetna’s vice-president, described the move as a “first step” and expressed hope that other cities across Canada will follow Burnaby’s lead.