Right around the time Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on Wednesday evening that rural India had declared itself open defecation free, a one-and-a-half-year-old child was brutally killed by his neighbour in Sagar district of Madhya Pradesh for defecating in front of his house.
Bhagwan Singh, son of Ram Singh, was the third child to be killed in a span of 10 days in the state over the issue of open defecation. On September 25, two minors - a 12-year-old girl and her 10-year-old nephew - had been beaten to death by two persons in Bhavkhedi village of Shivpuri district apparently for defecating in the open.
The latest incident happened in Bagaspur village of Bina in Sagar, about 170km from Bhopal, on Wednesday evening when the toddler defecated in front of his neighbour Mohar Singh's house. It led to an altercation of Mohar and his son Umesh with Ram Singh, father of the toddler, police said.
Bina sub-divisional police officer Dhruv Raj Singh Chouhan told The Week that Mohar Singh and Umesh attacked Ram Singh with batons, leaving him injured. They also hit the toddler, who later succumbed to his injuries. The father-son duo have been arrested, the officer said.
He told to The Week that though the altercation between the neighbours had started over open defecation of the toddler, the police were also looking into the angle of an old enmity between the families.
Sources said that both the families stayed in kutcha houses and had no toilets at home. They resort to open defecation.
District collector Preeti Maithil could not be contacted for comments.
On Wednesday evening, at a programme on Sabarmati Riverfront in Ahmedabad on the occasion of the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, Modi announced that rural India had declared itself open defecation free. He also went on to say that in the last 60 months, the government provided 11 crore toilets to cover 60 crore families and the world was amazed at seeing this success.