A Bihar district magistrate was mired in controversy after he asked a villager to sell his wife if he did not have money to construct a toilet at home.
Kanwal Tanuj, Aurangabad DM, reportedly made this comment while addressing a group of 500 villagers at Jamhor block in the district during Swachhta Mahasabha — a programme aimed at creating awareness against open defecation.
Though the IAS officer later denied having made such a comment, a video has gone viral, which shows Tanuj apparently losing his cool when the villager asked him for an advance payment to construct the structure. “We are poor people. We don’t have money to build a toilet. Kindly give us the amount in advance,” the villager interrupted Tanuj.
“If you don’t have the money, go and sell your wife or auction her,” the angry DM retorted to the unidentified villager.
The officer said due to lack of toilets, women get raped and harassed when they go out to relieve themselves.
“It takes only Rs 12,000 to construct a toilet. Is Rs 12,000 more than your wife’s dignity? Can you let your wife be raped just because you say you don’t have Rs 12,000?” Tanuj lashed out at the villagers, most of whom were believed to be Dalits.
The district administration had organised the programme to create awareness among rural people about the Centre’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan as well as Nitish Kumar’s ‘toilet in every household’ scheme — one of the seven resolutions he adopted after becoming the chief minister of Bihar in November 2015.
Under the scheme, the government provides Rs 12,000 each to a family to build a toilet. The amount is reimbursed to the beneficiary after verification and recommendation of the village chief concerned.