Is voyeurism a BJP State Policy to promote Swachh Bharat?
- Municipality Chairman behind lynching of Zafar Khan?
New Delhi: On the 16 June 2017, the first political activist of Rajasthan, Mr Zafar Khan, was lynched to death by officials of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan team. The team represents the Government of Rajasthan. According to law of Torts, the State is vicariously liable for wrongs of its employees or representatives. Even if the representatives were negligent or malicious in their wrong doing, the State is liable to pay damages to the victim. It is also an issue of law and order, governance and political administration. The administrator might not have ordered or permitted the wrong doing. In case of crime, the guilty will be individually liable along with co-criminals and conspirators, if any. The liability to pay damages is civil liability and the State, i.e., Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje’s Government is vicariously liable to compensate the family of Zafar Khan who was lynched by the officials. The state has to prosecute these team members for murder, sexual harassment or assault or criminal force on women with an intent to outrage modesty of women, by taking photographs through their mobiles when they were trying to defecate.
Does Swachh Bharat mean shaming, chasing and killing the women or providing them facility of toilets? The intent of Swachh Bharat should not be one to fudge the numbers and spend the public money for publicity but to sincerely create toilet facilities to prevent open defecation.
Zafar Hussein was the Pratapgarh District Committee member of the CPI ML (liberation) party and president of the district branch of the trade union AICCTU. The lynching was allegedly done by the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan team, who were the Safai Karamcharis of the Municipality in the presence of the Municipality chairperson Ashok Jain at 6 am. Kavita Srivatsava wrote in her letter dated 19th June to Rajasthan Chief Minister: “Mehtab Shah (Jagwas) Kachhi Basti houses more than 450 families of all castes and communities. The women of the Mehtab Shah (Jagwas) Kachhi Basti, have no option but to go to Khal (a ditch) behind the Basti for defecation. The community toilets are too few and not functional, showing the failure of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. The Khal fills up with water for several months of the year, so the water from the Khal is used for washing purpose but when it is dry people carry water in containers and use it for washing purpose.
It is ironic that before this incident Zafar Hussein had repeatedly written to the Municipality including his last letter cum press note on the 14th of June which states that money which came for toilets to be constructed in ward 2 was diverted by the municipality officials, which showed the prejudicial behavior of the Municipality. He also added that the public toilets in the basti were non-functional due to negligence on the part of the Municipality. He also used to link the Basti with the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan by giving Rs 12,000 per toilet to individual households earmarked in the Abhiyan. He also complained at length regarding the indignity with which women were treated by the safai Karamcharis, literally on a daily basis when they were defecating. He talked of how the safai karamcharis chased the women, took their photographs with their mobile cameras, particularly of women, while they were relieving themselves and also grabbed them. He clearly stated that the members of this ward had no other option but to defecate in the open, till such time as toilets were constructed. The letter has as co-signatory the party State Secretary, Mahendra Chaudhary. This clearly was a serious complaint that was sent to the municipality”.
The morning of the 16 June 2017 was the 4th day when the team of safai karamcharis, were chasing women with mobile cameras, which is called crime of sexual violence under section 354 C of the IPC called Voyeurism.
Voyeurism means: 354C. Any man who watches, or captures the image of a woman engaging in a private act in circumstances where she would usually have the expectation of not being observed either by the perpetrator or by any other person at the behest of the perpetrator or disseminates such image shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than one year, but which may extend to three years, and shall also be liable to fine, and be punished on a second or subsequent conviction, with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than three years, but which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.
Explanation I.— For the purpose of this section, “private act” includes an act of watching carried out in a place which, in the circumstances, would reasonably be expected to provide privacy and where the victim’s genitals, posterior or breasts are exposed or covered only in underwear; or the victim is using a lavatory; or the victim is doing a sexual act that is not of a kind ordinarily done in public.
Explanation 2.— Where the victim consents to the capture of the images or any act, but not to their dissemination to third persons and where such image or act is disseminated, such dissemination shall be considered an offence under this section.
This team members or anybody had no right to go near the women when they were relieving themselves. It was complained that not only did they go too close to where the women were, encroaching on their privacy, they also started kicking their water containers and to top it all started taking photographs of women in a state of undress, in the presence of the chairperson of the Municipality, Ashok Jain. When the women objected, the men from the Basti came running out. Zafar Hussain, and others intervened and prevented the team members. He was targeted and allegedly beaten brutally to death by several safai Karamcharis including Kamal Harijan, Ritesh Harijan, Manish Harijan and Ashok Jain the Chairperson of the Municipality. What is also shocking is that instead of taking Zafar Hussein to the hospital the karamcharis sped away in their vehicle. Surprisingly they lodged an FIR against Zafar.
Zafar was described as the culprit and accused in this lynching case. It is atrocious to register FIR against victim of crime alleging that he provoked responsible for his own death. The Pratapgarh police station lodged an FIR against him u/s 332 and 353 at the behest of the Municipality Commissioner of having beaten up the safai karamcharis and obstructed them in Governmental duty. Because of mounting public pressure the post mortem was conducted, but no arrests were made.
The Citizens demanded: The immediate suspension and arrest of all the three Safai Karamcharis named in the FIR along with Ashok Jain, the chairperson of the Municipality. A high level enquiry be set up to examine the lynching to death of Zafar Hussain and the tyrannical role of the Safai Karamcharis and the Municipality as a whole, including the Chairperson towards women and men defecating in duress. The family be given a compensation of Rs. 1 crore. Immediately ensure the construction of community and individual toilets in the Jagwas Kachhi Basti.
Teachers were ordered to take photographs
Last year on 3 June 2016, in district of Jhalawar, the District Education Officer had issued a circular that all teachers would leave their homes at 5 am, not only generate awareness against open defecation but also take photographs of those defecating in the open and send it through whatsApp to senior officials on a daily basis. Teachers questioned this policy, particularly the women who did not appreciate this role of clicking photographs of men and women in a state of undress when relieving themselves. This amounts to state voyeurism through official circulars. It is not only an assault on dignity of women but also on dignity of teachers.
Is it the avowed policy of the Union and State Government run by BJP to indulge in such kind of shaming via taking photographs of people when they are relieving themselves? Are they not encouraging teachers and ordinary men to commit the acts of sexual violence, including voyeurism as happened in the case of Pratapgarh?