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BHOPAL (Web Desk) – A sect of the Jain religion in India is asking a state government to exempt its monks from expected rules banning defecation in the open – a practice said to be part of their traditions.

The Digamber Jain Social Group Federation said it is petitioning Gopal Bhargava, Madhya Pradesh’s state minister of panchayat and rural development, to exempt monks and seers from expected bans on defecating in the open, the BBC reported.

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“We have asked the government to allow our monks and seers to attend the nature’s call in the open as they never use toilets for doing so,” Ravindra Jain, the acting president of the federation, said in remarks quoted by the Hindustan Times.

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“They follow a centuries-old strict lifestyle in which they only go in secluded or forested areas to attend nature’s call and that too once in a day.”

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Bhargava’s personal assistant said the official had yet to receive any such request from the Jain community.

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India has been seeking to end public defecation by 2019 for public health reasons and has been building toilets around the country and encouraging states and local governments to institute strict laws to keep defecation out of the streets.

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Jain said the group fears Madhya Pradesh could soon have anti-defecation laws and penalties similar to those found in Rajasthan.