In the 16th century, after the genocide of Magh pirates, the first generation of sweepers was established to clear the dead bodies. After the partition of Bengal in the year 1905, the importance of sweepers was highly noted. During that time, cheap cleaners were brought from Madras, Kanpur, and Nagpur. Rehabilitation centers and establishments were being built at Tikatoli, Aga Sadek and at Ajimpur. These cleaners were basically brought using persuasive and bribery methods in the name of alcohol consumption. Till this day, the kindling of these Tamil Kanpur and Nagpur sweepers and cleaners are working in this city to keep it clean. After the war in the 1940’s and the great famine in 1974, many Bengali people started to work and get involved in this profession on a daily basis.
Now a day, all the dangerous sewage cleaning is mainly done by the local Bengali sweepers. Most of them are not even employed by City Corporation. They are basically employed through a third party contractual basis. The majority of them are living in a floating situation since they do not have proper homes. Every day, they earn about 400-700 taka which is like 5-10 dollars.
A few years ago, they were seen working without any sort of proper tools and were simply wearing clothes that were only able to hide their dignity. Now a day, such scenery is not so much visible since the government provided them with an advanced diving suit (only the headgear) for working purposes.
Some of the cleaners let me know that, a few years ago, a foreign photographer took their photographs and went to the government officials to report about their daily wages and social security. His reporting created some impact on the situation. Due to his reporting, their basic wage increased from 200-300 taka to 400-700 taka which is like 2-4 dollars to 5-10 dollars.
In another report, it has been indicated that those who work in the sewage drains among them 100 or more people dies due to sickness from contagious diseases at an early age.
About Saiful Amin Kazal
I am Saiful Amin Kazal, born 1969, in Dhaka, Bangladesh. I am an amateur photographer and I am doing photography from 1980. I am a private employee working in a construction company.
During the “Pilkhana Tragedy” (also called “bdr mutiny” or “bdr tragedy”) 2009, 25 February, while on the way to my workplace, I got stuck at Jigatola bus stand, very near to BDR (now its renamed ” BGB”, Bangladesh border guard) 4# gate, they were openly firing to open place & running people with heavy machine guns & Chinese riffles, I had a sony digital pocket camera in my pant pocket (which I used to carry always) & I was taking pictures of them going or getting close to their gate, suddenly a bullet of a Chinese riffle shot me down, the bullet hit my left leg just above the knee, I was carried to govt hospital so soon by the public, my sciatic nerve was injured very seriously & my leg was broken into so many pieces. Total of 7 major operations have been done from 2009 to 2011, I went to Vellore CMC Hospital in 2012 also but nothing good happened.
I was at bed rest for 4 & 1/2 long yrs (until 2014), now I can walk but with an elbow cratch & brase always in the leg, very sad to tell that in those time (2010 maybe) my hard disc was crashed which later I failed to recover, I lost all my images of 80’s to 2009 Feb, I became so much frustrated that time. When I got a DSLR Camera for the 1st time in my life in 2015, I started my previous job again & started my photography life once again, with heavy pain of leg I never stopped, I never left home without my camera for a single day, I did my self project “365 Project” in 2018.
I love street, lifestyle, portrait, documentary photography, I also love all kind of festivals, from late 2017, I am working on “harijan/dalit” & also working on “stranded Pakistani” (Bihari) in geneva camp & mirpur bihari camp. I am also doing some other documentary, such as “tannery”, “plastic (flex)” and more. Photography is my hobby, my passion, my love. I never run for any award or fame or any certificate, I do photography as I love to do it.
You can find Saiful Amin Kazal on the Web:
All the pictures in this post are copyrighted to Saiful Amin Kazal. Their reproduction, even in part, is forbidden without the explicit approval of the rightful owners.