Local Congress leaders said they welcomed the programme but this was no way to treat people. Pic/twitter
Local Congress leaders said they welcomed the programme but this was no way to treat people. Pic/twitter

Ten people rounded up for relieving themselves in the open were bundled in the municipal vehicle used for transporting stray cattle and paraded around the industrial town of Bilaspur in Chhattisgarh. Of and on, the men had to take a pledge not to repeat their mistake again at the top of their voice. "Khule mein sauch nahin karenge (We won't defecate in the open)," they had to repeat through the 15-km journey.

The idea apparently was to get across the message about Swachh India Mission, a novel programme that is not just about sanitation, but dignity of people as well. The municipal corporation didn't think there was anything wrong.

"Our employees are making them aware," said Mithilesh Awasthi, a senior officer of the Bilaspur Municipal Corporation. For the future, he said, the people caught by staffers had been issued "passes" that would give them free access to the public toilet facilities that run on a 'pay-and-use basis'.
"The manner in which these people are dealing with people is inhuman... They are ferrying them in a vehicle used to take stray animals," said Sheikh Nasiruddin, leader of opposition of the municipal corporation where the BJP is in power.