The Daily Fix

The Daily Fix: In Alwar, murderous mobs are emboldened by the indulgence of politicians and police

Everything you need to know for the day (and a little more).

The Big Story: Alwar again

It is a story that has been repeated far too often about Alwar in the last few months. Another Muslim man accused of cattle smuggling and allegedly killed by cow vigilantes, another battle for justice launched with little hope. Six months after dairy farmer Pehlu Khan was lynched for allegedly transporting cattle, the body of 35-year-old Umar Khan was found on the railway tracks on November 10. His family have lodged a complaint saying he and two others were attacked by a gang of seven vigilantes. The police have already started pointing fingers at the victims, saying one of them has a record of cattle smuggling. Ummar Khan’s family have demanded arrests but also questioned the testimonies of his two companions and asked for a fair investigation. Given the precedents and the political climate that surrounds these attacks, it is unlikely that they will get one.

Already, the routine excuses and evasions have started. State Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria said they did not even “manpower” to “control every situation in all cities in time”. Of Pehlu Khan’s killing, he had said it was “alright” that people “illegally” transporting cattle were caught, though no one had the right to “take the law into their own hands”, that the “problem is from both sides”. Then, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi tried to deny that a lynching had actually taken place. It took Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje almost a month to break her silence on the Pehlu Khan case, when she said that violence would not be tolerated. Months later, the six men Khan had named in his dying declaration were let out on bail, even though they were on the run and had never been questioned. Of course, this culture of impunity stretches beyond Rajasthan, to the various states that have seen lynchings in the last couple of years: Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Assam, Gujarat. There have been few arrests, few trials and no convictions.

In Alwar in particular, the political acquiescence that accompanied Pehlu Khan’s lynching has emboldened murderous bullies. For instance, when activist Harsh Mander tried to take his Karwan-e-Mohabbat or Caravan of Love to Behror, the site of the lynching, they received threats from rightwing groups. When they pressed on, protesting crowds gathered at the spot as the local police claimed they were helpless to stop them. Never mind contrition, violence has only strengthened violence in Alwar, while the administration cheers on.

The Big Scroll

Harsh Mander recounts a visit to Pehlu Khan’s village and takes the “Karwan-e-Mohabbat’ to Behror, where the dairy farmer was lynched.


  1. In the Indian Express, Pratap Bhanu Mehta writes how the judiciary has created a crisis of credibility for itself.
  2. What human rights can Myanmar expect or Aung San Suu Kyi enforce under a military junta, asks Nilanjana Sengupta in the Hindu.
  3. In the Telegraph, Ruchir Joshi on fulfilling spaces to work in.


Don’t miss...

Alok Prasanna Raghav weighs in on the institutional crisis of the judiciary:

 “The Chief Justice of India, like the Chief Justice of any High Court is the ‘Master of the Rolls’ – the judge with the power to decide the roster of the court: who hears which case and when. This was never in dispute. The ‘order’ passed by the ‘Constitution Bench’ reiterating the legal position makes no reference to the facts which prompted these proceedings. The writ petition was filed given that Misra’s conduct was in question and, when it came to a judicial inquiry about the same, he cannot be allowed to be a judge in his own cause. This cardinal principle of natural justice, the cornerstone of any independent and impartial judiciary, and one which courts in common law jurisdictions have recognised for over 400 years was violated with impunity. While the order cites case-law and precedent to assert his powers as a master of the rolls, it does not, even in passing, address the argument made by Prashant Bhushan and the petitioners that Misra, as Chief Justice of India, should have recused from hearing this case.” 

We welcome your comments at
Sponsored Content BY 

Relying on the power of habits to solve India’s mammoth sanitation problem

Adopting three simple habits can help maximise the benefits of existing sanitation infrastructure.

India’s sanitation problem is well documented – the country was recently declared as having the highest number of people living without basic sanitation facilities. Sanitation encompasses all conditions relating to public health - especially sewage disposal and access to clean drinking water. Due to associated losses in productivity caused by sickness, increased healthcare costs and increased mortality, India recorded a loss of 5.2% of its GDP to poor sanitation in 2015. As tremendous as the economic losses are, the on-ground, human consequences of poor sanitation are grim - about one in 10 deaths, according to the World Bank.

Poor sanitation contributes to about 10% of the world’s disease burden and is linked to even those diseases that may not present any correlation at first. For example, while lack of nutrition is a direct cause of anaemia, poor sanitation can contribute to the problem by causing intestinal diseases which prevent people from absorbing nutrition from their food. In fact, a study found a correlation between improved sanitation and reduced prevalence of anaemia in 14 Indian states. Diarrhoeal diseases, the most well-known consequence of poor sanitation, are the third largest cause of child mortality in India. They are also linked to undernutrition and stunting in children - 38% of Indian children exhibit stunted growth. Improved sanitation can also help reduce prevalence of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). Though not a cause of high mortality rate, NTDs impair physical and cognitive development, contribute to mother and child illness and death and affect overall productivity. NTDs caused by parasitic worms - such as hookworms, whipworms etc. - infect millions every year and spread through open defecation. Improving toilet access and access to clean drinking water can significantly boost disease control programmes for diarrhoea, NTDs and other correlated conditions.

Unfortunately, with about 732 million people who have no access to toilets, India currently accounts for more than half of the world population that defecates in the open. India also accounts for the largest rural population living without access to clean water. Only 16% of India’s rural population is currently served by piped water.

However, there is cause for optimism. In the three years of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, the country’s sanitation coverage has risen from 39% to 65% and eight states and Union Territories have been declared open defecation free. But lasting change cannot be ensured by the proliferation of sanitation infrastructure alone. Ensuring the usage of toilets is as important as building them, more so due to the cultural preference for open defecation in rural India.

According to the World Bank, hygiene promotion is essential to realise the potential of infrastructure investments in sanitation. Behavioural intervention is most successful when it targets few behaviours with the most potential for impact. An area of public health where behavioural training has made an impact is WASH - water, sanitation and hygiene - a key issue of UN Sustainable Development Goal 6. Compliance to WASH practices has the potential to reduce illness and death, poverty and improve overall socio-economic development. The UN has even marked observance days for each - World Water Day for water (22 March), World Toilet Day for sanitation (19 November) and Global Handwashing Day for hygiene (15 October).

At its simplest, the benefits of WASH can be availed through three simple habits that safeguard against disease - washing hands before eating, drinking clean water and using a clean toilet. Handwashing and use of toilets are some of the most important behavioural interventions that keep diarrhoeal diseases from spreading, while clean drinking water is essential to prevent water-borne diseases and adverse health effects of toxic contaminants. In India, Hindustan Unilever Limited launched the Swachh Aadat Swachh Bharat initiative, a WASH behaviour change programme, to complement the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. Through its on-ground behaviour change model, SASB seeks to promote the three basic WASH habits to create long-lasting personal hygiene compliance among the populations it serves.

This touching film made as a part of SASB’s awareness campaign shows how lack of knowledge of basic hygiene practices means children miss out on developmental milestones due to preventable diseases.


SASB created the Swachhata curriculum, a textbook to encourage adoption of personal hygiene among school going children. It makes use of conceptual learning to teach primary school students about cleanliness, germs and clean habits in an engaging manner. Swachh Basti is an extensive urban outreach programme for sensitising urban slum residents about WASH habits through demos, skits and etc. in partnership with key local stakeholders such as doctors, anganwadi workers and support groups. In Ghatkopar, Mumbai, HUL built the first-of-its-kind Suvidha Centre - an urban water, hygiene and sanitation community centre. It provides toilets, handwashing and shower facilities, safe drinking water and state-of-the-art laundry operations at an affordable cost to about 1,500 residents of the area.

HUL’s factory workers also act as Swachhata Doots, or messengers of change who teach the three habits of WASH in their own villages. This mobile-led rural behaviour change communication model also provides a volunteering opportunity to those who are busy but wish to make a difference. A toolkit especially designed for this purpose helps volunteers approach, explain and teach people in their immediate vicinity - their drivers, cooks, domestic helps etc. - about the three simple habits for better hygiene. This helps cast the net of awareness wider as regular interaction is conducive to habit formation. To learn more about their volunteering programme, click here. To learn more about the Swachh Aadat Swachh Bharat initiative, click here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Hindustan Unilever and not by the Scroll editorial team.