Bengaluru activists hold vigil for STP workers who died, allege cops diluted charges | Azad Times

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Azad Times News Desk.

On Saturday, February 4, two workers died while working at Prestige Falcon City apartments in south Bengaluru to clean the sewage treatment plant (STP).

A candlelight vigil was held by Bahutva Karnataka, a civil rights organisation, in memory of Dilip and Ravi, who died while working at a sewage treatment facility. On February 8, a protest was organised outside the Prestige Falcon City apartments in Konanakunte locality of Bengaluru, where the two died. Citizens and activists gathered at the main gate of the apartment complex and observed the vigil while raising awareness of caste-based atrocities. Activists at the protest alleged that the police had booked the accused under bailable charges, despite the gravity of the offence.

“Such incidents keep happening despite the ban against manual scavenging in the country. BBMP has the facilities to use machines for this, and there is no need for manual labour. The ones who have been arrested are charged under section 304A of the Indian Penal Code for causing death due to negligence, which is a bailable offence and one need not even go to court. The accused should have been charged under section 304 for culpable homicide, which is a non-bailable offence,” said advocate and human rights activist Narsimhamurthy, who was at the protest.

Dilip Kumar Jana, 25, from Odisha, and Ravi Kumar, 29, from Koratagere in the Tumakuru district, died while cleaning the sewage treatment plant (STP) at the Falcon City apartment. They worked for a firm Bio Centra India, which deals with water and wastewater treatment facilities. They were assigned to the sewage treatment plant at the apartment on Saturday, February 4 and died the same day at around 7 pm. The management of the apartment told the police that the bodies were found near the tank and they were not hired for STP maintenance. They claimed that they could have died due to electrocution as there were electrical boards where the workers died. 

The owner of Bio Centra, Mukhtiyar Ahmed and employees Ramesh (field officer), Prabhu (electrical in-charge), and the management of Falcon City apartment complex have all been charged with criminal negligence. Police suspect that the two men might have died after inhaling noxious fumes. They have not received a post-mortem report.

“In the last five years, 330 safai karamcharis have died across the country while being compelled to perform manual scavenging. In Karnataka, 88 safai karamcharis have lost their lives in the last 15 years. Thousands more have had to face the indignity of cleaning faecal material and sewage with hand. It is only persons from the Dalit and historically oppressed communities who are forced by the caste system to perform this caste-ordained occupation. As we demand an end to this heinous practice, we must also demand the complete eradication of caste,” Bahutva Karnataka said in its statement. They also demanded compensation for the families of Ravi Kumar and Dilip Kumar Jana for their untimely death and strict action against those responsible.

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