New Delhi, Dec 18 (EFE).-The police on Monday arrested a school principal and a teacher in southern India for forcing several students to manually clean a septic tank.
“Principal Bharathamma and Professor Muniyappa are arrested” in relation to the case, local police officer M. Narayan told EFE.
The arrests occurred after several images taken by another teacher at the school, in the Kolar district of the southern state of Karnataka, came to light.
The images showed students between 11 and 15 years old cleaning a septic tank with bare hands, without any safety gear.
Manual cleaning of septic tanks, a practice dangerous to health, was prohibited by law in 1993 but is still being carried out by people from the lowest rung of India’s caste hierarchy, the Dalits or untouchables.
According to data from the government’s National Commission of Safai Karamcharis (sanitation workers), which ensures the well-being of sanitation workers, 988 people have died between 1993 and March 2022 while cleaning septic tanks.
However, the NGO Safai Karamchari Andolan, which works to eradicate manual scavenging raised the figures to 1,760 deaths for the same period.
Ninety-eight percent of sanitation workers in India are Dalits who earn 180 to 200 rupees (between $2.17 and $2.41) per month, according to the NGO.
On Nov. 15, local media reported the death of four people from asphyxiation while cleaning a septic tank in a village in western India. EFE