Zafar Khan’s death highlights urgency of anti-lynching legislation

Municipal employees in Rajasthan lynched a man who tried to stop them from photographing women defecating in the open

Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images
Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

NH Web Desk

The lynching of 55-year-old Zafar Khan in Rajasthan’s Pratapgarh highlights the urgency for an anti-lynching legislation. A national campaign against mob lynching is engaged in preparing a draft legislation to make mob lynching a non-bailable offence and to ensure life-sentence to those who are found guilty. The draft also calls for the suspension of local officials and a judicial or magisterial inquiry being made mandatory.

The legislation has become necessary following municipal employees and a municipal commissioner beating the 55-year-old man to death early on Wednesday morning. The crime of Zafar Khan: he was trying to prevent the group from photographing women defecating in the open.

CPI(ML) politburo member and AIPWA secretary Kavita Krishnan claimed that reports are coming in from across the country of municipal officials ‘shaming’ people by photographing them defecating in the open. “The Swachh Bharat Mission has become a pretext to target people, humiliate and lynch them,” she claimed.

The following tweets and retweets by her on Thursday reflect the brutality on display:

Zafar Khan had been demanding the construction of toilets in the slum for the past several months, claimed his family members. But when he saw the municipal commissioner and a team of employees photographing the women early in the morning, he tried to stop them. An altercation followed and he was assaulted so badly that the hospital, he was taken to, declared him brought dead.

The Rajasthan government had set a goal of becoming open-defecation free (ODF) by 2017. But according to a report in The Hindustan Times, at a review meeting last month, the chief minister was informed that 4,973 villages out of 9,891 villages in the state had become ODF.

The government defines an ODF village as one in which all households and community institutions use ‘safe technology options’ to dispose faeces—an euphemism for toilets.

The report would indicate that a little over 50 per cent of the villages in Rajasthan have become ODF.

The state, however, is fast acquiring notoriety. A large number of mob lynchings have been reported in the recent months.

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