Open defecation row: municipal commissioner booked for lynching man in Pratapgarh
Jaipur: A 55-year-old man, popular among locals as a social worker, was allegedly lynched to death by a team of municipal council officials in Rajasthan’s Pratapgarh town on Friday when the victim tried to stop them from allegedly taking photographs of women defecating in public.
The exercise was part of a drive aimed at embarrassing people defecating in public. Government officials, mainly employees of municipal bodies, take photograph of people who are caught in the act.
The drive, however, went haywire in Pratagarph on Friday when some officials of the local municipal council got angry over objections raised by one Zafar Khan to their taking photographs of women in a slum area. They allegedly beat him to death, as has been claimed in a police complaint registered by the victim’s brother. Five municipal council employees have been booked for murder. Those named in the FIR include the Pratapgarh municipal council commissioner, Ashok Jain, and four sanitation workers.
Jain told The PinkCity Post that the allegations were baseless.
“Our team had gone to the slum area to raise awareness against open defecation. We talked to people and collected feedback from them. When they said that there were no public toilets in the area, we told them the problem would be fixed. The government would build toilets,” said Jain.
He alleged that Zafar showed up when they were holding meeting with slum dwellers and started throwing abuses at the team members.
“He even attempted to assault of the municipal employees. We were completely shocked as to why he was so angry. He left in a huff. He was not even touched. But since there had been attack on us, we went to the local police station to register a complaint. It was only then we came to know about the man’s death,” said Jain.
People in the area went on a rampage as the news of Zafar’s death spread like wildfire. They blocked a highway and denied to perform a funeral unless the accused officials were arrested. A large number of people gathered outside the mortuary of a government hospital where the body of the victim was being kept for a postmortem examination. Police had to resort to a mild lathicharge following the incident to disperse the crowd of people attempting to block a road near Gandhi Circle. Additional police force was called in to maintain law and order.
Tension heightened when some people tried to give it a communal color, alleging that Zafar was attacked because he was from a particular community.
Traders closed their shops in many areas, particularly Gandhi Circle. Traffic jam was reported on National Highway – 113 for half an hour.
Zafar was a popular social worker among labourers. Locals said that he used to fight for their rights.
From beating drums to gifting roses when a person is caught defecating in public, many whimsical practices are exorcised by government officials in some districts in Rajasthan.
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