BHOPAL: It was the 2011 real-life saga of a young bride Anita Bai Narre in Betul district of Madhya Pradesh, which inspired the making of Akshay Kumar-Bhumi Pednekar starrer Bollywood flick Toilet Ek Prem Katha in 2017.
More than two years after the movie promoting Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious initiative Swachh Bharat Abhiyan hit the silver screen, a real-life Toilet: Ek Prem Katha has happened in the central Indian state.
A young Dalit woman, Jyoti, who was married to an unemployed youth Vivek Pankaj on May 6, 2019 (both natives of Bhind district of MP) left her in-laws place on the third day of her marriage because there was no toilet in the house and forced her to walk along with other women to defecate in the open near the National Highway (NH-92).
Five months gone and unemployed Pankaj unable to fund construction of a toilet at his house in Gyanendra Ka Pura village in Mehgaon area of Bhind district, Jyoti refuses to return.
“I’ve gone to Jyoti at least seven times since she returned to her parents’ home in Phoop town of Bhind district only. She stayed with me for only two-three days after the marriage on May 6, 2019, but returned to parents due to absence of a toilet in my house. Every time I visit her, she only puts the precondition of first getting a toilet built. Since I’m unemployed, I have not been able to get the toilet built. I’ve already requested for this under the government scheme to the village sarpanch, but he has been telling me to first get the toilet constructed with my money and later the sum will be reimbursed to me,” Pankaj said on Sunday.
While admitting her husband Pankaj's frequent visits to her parents’ house on Saturday requesting her to return to his home, Jyoti said on Sunday, “No question of returning till there is a toilet. The three days I stayed in my husband's place after May 6, 2019 marriage were horrific, as I was forced to defecate in the open near the National Highway. The day I narrowly escaped coming under the wheels of a dumper on the National Highway while attending nature’s call, I decided to come back to parents and not return to husband’s house till a toilet was built there.”
According to Kaliyan Singh, the chief executive officer (CEO) of Mehgaon Janpad Panchayat under which Vivek’s village is located, “No such matter has come to me as yet, if the village sarpanch denied toilet to the concerned family, they should have come to me and reported about it. I’ll myself look into the matter and find out if the concerned family is eligible for toilet under the ODF related scheme or not. Recently a detailed ground survey has been done in villages to figure out those families who are yet to have toilets. If the concerned family is one of them, they would be helped immediately,” said Singh.
This latest incident has been reported just four days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi claimed on October 2 that rural India has declared itself to be Open Defecation Free (ODF).
Five years back, owing to directions of a local court in Bagli area of Dewas district to build a toilet, another Dalit couple Dev Karan and Savita who have been living away from each other since eight years over absence of a toilet in the former's house, were reunited in January 2014 following construction of toilet in Karan’s house.