An 18-month-old was allegedly beaten to death by a neighbour over a dispute about open defecation in Madhya Pradesh’s Sagar district on Thursday, The Wire reported. The incident occurred 10 days after two Dalit children were allegedly beaten to death in the state’s Shivpuri district, also for defecating on the street.
A fight broke out between two families of Bhagaspur village after the seven-year-old child of Umesh Singh, a local resident, urinated in an area of the locality. One of Singh’s neighbours, Mohar Singh, protested against it. Police said Umesh Singh and his father Ram Singh began to assault Mohar Singh with sticks. The infant, identified as Bhagwan Singh, was hit on the head and died on the spot, according to The Times of India.
Mohar Singh told the police that Ram Singh and Umesh Singh had hit his child, Bhagwan Singh, multiple times. Mohar Singh also received multiple injuries on the head and other parts of his body. He was taken to the district government hospital for treatment.
“When a neighbour informed the police about the incident, we rushed an ambulance to the spot,” Bina Sub-divisional Officer of Police Shruv Raj Singh said. “The boy had already died and we took his injured father to a hospital.”
Police said the accused and the victims belong to the Scheduled Tribe community and do not have access to toilets. An inquiry revealed that the families had applied for it but had not received funds yet.
A first information report had been registered against Ram and Umesh Singh in Bhangarh police station and that they were arrested, police officials added.
“It is not a case of open defecation as mentioned by a section of the media, but a dispute between two families,” The Times of India quoted Sagar Superintendent of Police Amit Sanghi as saying.
In the earlier case of the Dalit children who were killed, two brothers were arrested and booked for murder. The father of one of the children said the family had been facing caste discrimination in Bhavkedhi village, where the incident took place.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday had declared rural India “open-defecation free”. “Today, rural India has declared itself open defection-free,” Modi had said. A week before that he had received the Global Goalkeeper Award from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.
Corrections and clarifications: The story has been updated to reflect that the child who defecated in the open was not killed, and instead it was the son of the man who complained about urinating outdoors who was beaten to death.
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