Last week, the nation commemorated Ambedkar Jayanti and all major political parties paid tributes to the Dalit icon.
While all that is great, the same political parties turned a blind eye to over 1300 manual scavengers who died over the past two years.
The shocking revelation was made by the Safai Karmachari Andolan (SKA), an organisation which finished a 125-day journey across 500 districts on the eve of Ambedkar's 125th anniversary. The group of manual scavengers and their children were on a mission against the inhuman practice of manual scavenging, forced on people from scheduled castes, The Times Of India Reported.
They said that the practice which was banned by a law in 2003, still continues as Census 2011 estimated that eight lakh people were working as manual scavengers.
Although the Supreme Court directed the government to take action against the system in 2014, the situation remains just as bad.
Cleaning septic tanks is a highly risky job, as it requires workers to climb down in the tanks filled with noxious gases, without any protective gear. The worker also has to completely submerge oneself to ensure that the tank is cleaned properly.
At a gathering in Delhi, families of those who died while working as manual scavengers spoke out. According to a report about the event in The Hindu, a safai karmachari named Dev Kumar from Kanpur said,
“Buckets full of muck on our heads and brooms aplenty, how do we to lift the tricolour, if our hands are not free?”