Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje on Sunday called the demise of social worker Zafar Khan “extremely unfortunate”, and said that an investigation had been launched into the matter. Khan, a member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) was allegedly beaten to death on Friday morning by Pratapgarh municipal council officials for trying to prevent them from taking photographs of women defecating in the open.
Raje retweeted a post from the verified account of the Department of Information and Public Relations, Rajasthan. This handle had itself retweeted a post by an unverified account of the Udaipur Inspector General. The post said, “Demise of ZafarKhan is unfortunate. Scientific evidence doesn’t suggest murder. Law will take its course.” Interestingly, it also tagged senior journalists Barkha Dutt, Sunil Jain and Shekhar Gupta.
Khan’s brother Noor Mohammad had on Friday lodged a complaint against municipal officials Kamal Harijan, Ritesh Harijan, Manish Harijan, Nagar Parishad commissioner Ashok Jain and others. Police have registered a case of murder against the five officials.
However, Commissioner Ashok Jain claimed that he had no idea how Zafar Khan died, as the man was “in perfect health” when he left the area following the incident. “We went to the slum to spread awareness about the adverse effects of open defecation,” said Jain. This man, Zafar Khan, arrived there and started abusing us and later also assaulted one of our sanitation staff. Following that, he left the place and returned to his home. At that time he was perfectly healthy.”
The policy of naming and shaming people for open defecation was introduced by the Rajasthan government last year as part of the Swachh Bharat mission.