Police had not yet arrested anyone for the lynching of Zaffar Hussein in Pratapgarh (Rajasthan) early on Wednesday morning. It would seem they have accepted the statement of the Municipal Commissioner who denied any altercation. He also claimed that Hussein may have died due to a heart attack.
Nor has the police recorded the statements of the deceased’s wife and daughter, whose first-person accounts contradict the official version. Both of them are now on record that the municipal employees threatened, abused and assaulted the deceased.
Ratan Lal Bhargava¸ Additional Superintendent of Police, Pratapgarh told National Herald over phone: “We are investigating the matter. The persons who have been named in the FIR will only be arrested after the investigations are over and if they are found guilty. The family members of Zafar Hussain are in deep shock. Therefore, we haven’t recorded their statements so far.”
The team of municipal employees apparently had been visiting the slum area for the past four days in a bid to ‘name and shame’ people engaged in open defecation. The wife and daughter of the deceased told Hindustan Times that they were among the women relieving themselves when Hussein rushed out hearing the commotion.
Tragically, before he was killed, Zafar Hussein (55) had issued a press statement on the letterhead of CPI(ML) of which he was a member. Describing it as the municipality’s ‘Nanga Aatank’ (naked terror), he objected to sanitation workers of the corporation chasing women, heckling them, kicking containers in which they carried water and photographing the women.
The statement alleged that the employees used such profanities that even women found them difficult to share.
Hinting at possible corruption, Hussein —a labourer who lived in a slum, wrote, “A lot of money has been allotted to Ward Number 2 of Kacchi Basti for construction of toilets. In the past, a public toilet complex was constructed for women but due to official neglect it’s in ruins now.”
“If you want to link women with Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan then ensure that the money amounting to Rs 12000 allotted under the scheme is directly transferred to the residents of our ward,” he maintained, indicating that the money did not reach the people.
“If the municipal corporation had the intent, the toilets would have got constructed by now. From now onwards, we won’t stand the dictatorial attitude of the municipal officials. We will give them a befitting reply,” read the statement, which does not have a date but is signed by him and one Mahendra Chaudhary.