Patna: A woman in Bihar registered a case against her in-laws for the lack of a toilet in their home in what is being described as the first such case in the state.
She withdrew the case only after they agreed in writing to the police to arrange for a toilet at home.
The bizarre incident took place at Jiyan-Khurd village in Muzaffarpur district, some 80km north of Patna.
In her complaint petition, the woman, identified as Rangeela Devi, said she came to her in-laws’ home five years back after marriage, but was compelled to answer nature’s call in the open which was humiliating.
“I have been facing this humiliation for the past five years. Several eyes follow me when I go out to answer nature’s call. Despite repeated requests to my in-laws to build a toilet, they did not take any notice of my please,” she said in her petition.
Soon after the case was registered, the police swung into action and detained her in-laws. The police let them off only after they filled a bond promising to construct a toilet soon at home.
“We let them off as they gave us in writing to build a toilet soon,” local police official Jyoti Kumari said.
The problem of sanitation is quite alarming in Bihar and as per an official reports, 14 million households in the state with a population of 110 million don’t have toilets at home, forcing them to defecate in the open.
Last week, even the Narendra Modi government censured the state government — headed by chief minister Nitish Kumar — over the issue.
“So far, 192 districts across India have been declared Open Defecation Free (ODF) but none from Bihar figure in this list,” federal minister of state for drinking water and sanitation S.S. Ahluwalia told the media last week. The minister was here to review the progress of toilet construction in Bihar.
He said progress on the scheme was too slow and said given the current rate, Bihar will not be able to achieve the target even by 2022 while the Union government has planned to declare India ODF by October 2, 2019.
According to the minister, Bihar is currently one of the “worst” states in the matter of building toilets. “While the national average for toilet construction is 67 per cent, in Bihar it is only 32.5 per cent which is just half of the national average,” he said.
The censuring came barely a fortnight after the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), a New Delhi-based research and advocacy body, presented a horrible picture of the sanitation drive in Bihar in its report released on 31 August.
“Till June 2017, around 70 per cent of Bihar’s population was yet to have access to toilets. More than 50 per cent of girls miss school in the state due to absence of proper toilets in schools,” the CSE study revealed.